Falling in love with a monk probably isn’t on anyone’s bucket list. That’s exactly what happened to Katherine Jenkins as she shares in her memoir Lessons from the Monk I Married. On her journey to find herself, she takes an English teaching in South Korea. She crossed paths with Buddhist monk Seong Yoon Lee by chance more than once.
Seeking a life of purpose, Jenkins pursues a path of meditation and soul searching. She turns to the her new friend the monk for direction. Along the way, the two fall in love, but obviously their relationship is not simple. Her memoir covers the ups and downs of their relationship.
Before I picked up Lessons from the Monk I Married, I glanced at Jenkins’ blog of the same title. After reading her blog, I expected more lessons on spirituality and less romance. Then I realized that the book was more about the back and forth battle between her future husband’s Buddhist calling and his love for Jenkins. So I adjusted my expectations.
When Jenkins described her first encounter with Seong Yoon Lee, I was curious as to how their romantic relationship began. I really wanted to know, how does a monk fall in love with a civilian? An American one at that? (I won’t give you any spoilers on the how.)
Once the two finally did began their secret relationship, I began to lose interest. The rest of the book reads a lot like an episode of a sitcom. They were together. Then they broke up. Together. Apart. Their cyclic journey might have been more interesting that it was on paper, but I couldn’t tell. I found the writing a bit flat and unemotional. Reserved might be a better description.
Breaking up with one’s soul mate is not an easy thing to do, but I never really got a glimpse of Jenkins’ turmoil. Even the author’s journey to seek inner peace through her meditation and retreats had the same reserved tone. I imagine that a 30 day, mostly silent, mediation retreat is life transforming for anyone. I never felt Jenkins’ rush as she was able to ground herself and find her inner peace during her retreat.
I had to push through to finish the last few chapters. I had already spent so much time reading it, I might as well finished it. I admit I was a bit disappointed with the book. At a glance, Katherine Jenkins’ story sounded inspiring. Here is a woman who traveled the world and learned many things about herself. Or so I thought.
I received a copy of the book for review. All opinions are my own. This post includes affiliate links.