What happens when the Pope and the Dalai Lama decide they need a secret vacation? Roland Merullo's playful, eloquent, and life-affirming novel finds the world's two holiest men teaming up for an unsanctioned road trip through the Italian countryside--where they rediscover the everyday joys and challenges of ordinary life. During the Dalai Lama's highly publicized official visit to the Vatican, the Pope suggests an adventure so unexpected and appealing that neither man can resist: they will shed their robes for several days and live as ordinary men. Before dawn, the two beloved religious leaders make a daring escape from Vatican City, slip into a waiting car, and are soon traveling the Italian roads in disguise. Along for the ride is the Pope's neurotic cousin and personal assistant, Paolo, who--to his terror-- has been put in charge of arranging the details of their disappearance. Rounding out the group is Paolo's estranged wife, Rosa, an eccentric entrepreneur with a lust for life, who orchestrates the sublime disguises of each man. Rosa is a woman who cannot resist the call to adventure--or the fun. Against a landscape of good humor, intrigue, and spiritual fulfillment, The Delight of Being Ordinary showcases the uniquely charming sensibilities of author Roland Merullo. Part whimsical expedition, part love story, part spiritual search, this uplifting novel brings warmth and laughter to the universal concerns of family life, religious inspiration, and personal identity-all of which combine to transcend cultural and political barriers in the name of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
"The Delight of Being Ordinary is a thrilling book, a rip-roaring, risk-taking literary tour de force that kept me up late and moved me deeply. Bursting with laughter and suffused with the divine comedy of the human condition, the story makes our complicated world seem a broader, more generous place. In this ultimate celebrity road trip, Merullo has written a love story for our times." -Susan Cheever, author of Home Before Dark "Another genre-defying installment in Merullo's engaging series of seriocomic religious novels . . . Admirers of previous volumes will recognize Merullo's knack for depicting goodness without treacle in his deft portraits of the pope and the Dalai Lama, and a La Dolce Vita-esque party scene spotlights his ability to discern humanity in the most decadent circumstances.... moving and unnerving . . . Lucid, unpretentious fiction spotlighting the drama of trying to make the divine part of our everyday lives." - Kirkus , starred review "A quirky but uplifting story in which Paolo de Padova, first assistant and cousin to Pope Francis, is asked to whisk away the pope and the visiting Dalai Lama on a clandestine vacation . . . Merullo's newest is a thoughtful, compassionate, and mature work, a 'Christian- Buddhist-agnostic prayer' to the world, and readers will find a pleasant surprise in its conclusion." - Publishers Weekly "Whimsical and irreverent, Merullo's parable meanders through divine doctrines and human relationships, attaining insights where least expected . . . A charming story celebrating connections over divisions that will especially thrill devotees of Merullo's Buddha Trilogy" - Booklist