The heroine in Heavenly Hirani’s School of Laughing Yoga, Annie Jordan, never wanted to go to India. Neither did the book’s author, Sarah-Kate Lynch. But when Sarah-Kate was invited by her husband to travel to Mumbai with him on a business trip, she decided to go. And just like Annie Jordan, she fell in love with the place. “It’s like a crazy, chaotic, scruffy, Indian version of New York,” she says.
The Kiwi author’s latest novel deals with empty nest syndrome. Annie is left feeling empty after her dog disappears, her mother dies and her teenage kids leave home. She loves her husband – she thinks – but she and Hugh haven’t really been communicating for years. When Hugh invites her to come along on his work trip to India, Annie agrees and decides this is a chance to find happiness.
I empathised with Annie – I had a terrible case of empty nest syndrome when my daughter left home – but it’s not just parents who reach a point in their lives and wonder what it’s all about. Sarah-Kate says most people look back at their lives and think, “Is this how I thought it would work out? Is this the life I planned?”
Heavenly Hirani’s School of Laughing Yoga is a lovely read, but Sarah-Kate accepts not everyone is fascinated by India. In fact, her American publishers didn’t feel readers would be interested in a novel set in the subcontinent and declined to publish it in the US.
“But you know what?” says Sarah-Kate. “That’s the great thing about getting older. Since I turned 50, I don’t care any more. They won’t publish it, so I’m publishing the book myself, as an e-book. I had an amazing experience and I wanted to share that and do the thing that I do which is write, so I wrote about the places and the people I loved.”