Love and the Goddess by Mary E Coen (available at Amazon) features Kate, a likable, open-minded protagonist who finds herself on the wrong end of a marriage separation. The open mind exposes her to situations in which she (for example) finds herself groped by a man who claims to have attained enlightenment, and in bed with another who doesn’t (after she tries online dating, which is a disatrous experience as she lurches from men who are lecherous from the outset to those with little by way of enough self-awareness or honesty to qualify as eligible).

Love and the goddessTaking off to travel, Kate finds herself mugged on a trip to South America, and exposed to a variety of other pitfalls.

But the heroine doesn’t become jaundiced; instead she gains wisdom. There are dashes of chick lit fare here – talk of clothes and fashion – but what sets the novel apart are the lessons Kate learns as she makes a spiritual (and transoceanic) journey full of jeopardy, culture and deities.

One of the so-called gurus Kate meets in South America knocks the patriarchal nature of Christianity and talks up the feminine divine aspects of culture.

However, he too is dismissive of the locals – to a point of rudeness – who built their homes on flood plains.

The author’s rendering of such details encourages the reader to determine themselves what to make of such spiritual teachers. We are reminded that – as in life more broadly – there is both good and bad, in both the individual and among any people who identify as spiritual guides.

Kate’s perceptive reading of her family and friends – and occasionally, she’s justifiably judgemental – suggests a roundedness to the work that doesn’t undermine her as a flawless heroine or Mary Sue character. The work indicates too that even approaching middle age, people have a lot of growing to do.

There are numerous subtextual themes and insights throughout – notions such as loving yourself before putting yourself out there to being loved, or how actively seeking romance is often counterproductive to finding it.

All in all, a great read replete with wisdom drawn from the ancient cultures of the world.

Follow Mary E Coen on Twitter. You can get Love and the Goddess at Amazon.