Love and the Goddess by Mary Elizabeth Coen

Pearls of wisdom permeate Mary Elizabeth Coen's Love & the Goddess, available on Amazon.

A story of self-discovery, groping, spiritual enlightenment, sensual pleasure, bad sex (from a poor choice of love match, rather than the style of writing - which is strong), great fashion sense, gay friends, and online dating that is often - as suggested here - funny, this book has a depth rarely found in similar novels. It's full of overt wisdom as Kate travels on her journey.

But there are a number of subtextual pearls of wisdom too:

Listen to the message and not the messenger.

One of the many "gurus" the heroine encounters, in a Peruvian town, is scathing in his views of both Christianity and the locals who built their homes on flood-prone riverbanks. While he shows little by way of an enlightened spirit, he makes a cogent point about the masculinisation of the divine by the Abrahamic religions.

The sacred-feminine aspects of humanity were more readily embraced by other cultures, he points out. The argument ties in neatly with the novel's themes, while showing even obnoxious people can make fair points.

Never rule out plain old common sense

Through-out this journey of self-discovery, there's talk that clearly shows that you can't beat common sense. Trusting her gut is something that Kate seems to be uncertain about initially, perhaps because she's been pulled out of her comfort zone of married bliss and forced to think on her feet. 

Incredulous about how the dating scene has changed during the course of her marriage, when the breakup occurs, she throws herself into things at the wrong times, with the wrong guys. A problem exacerbated by the fact that there don't seem to be any right guys, her own emotional intelligence and insight clearly need to be honed with a little introspection and self-discovery. Yet, what her gut tells her - even before she learns - is usually spot on.

In South America she experiences the profundity of unconditional love - but again, throughout this journey, with a few bumps in the road - both despite and because of Kate's own open-mindedness, her instincts usually pay off.

There's Learning in this Book

If you're familiar with the Greek and Roman pantheons, you'll enjoy learning about pre-Colombian cultures. And vice versa. The same can be said of Hinduism, Buddhism, various Esoteric concepts and more. The book can be read as an enjoyable and frequently loquacious, dialogue-driven narrative told from the POV of a likable protagonist who is abandoned by her husband, finds herself getting mugged, encounters crazy morons, and powers on through.

The flipside is that the novel cites the wonders and theories found among New Age and Ancient folk, such as leylines, meditation, and archaeological sights/sites worthy of Indiana Jones. Taken from that angle, there's terminology here that would keep me busy for weeks if I wanted to study further. That's not to say that it's heavy going. 

Emphasising spirituality over organised religion, it suggests that there is more than one way to enlightenment, and that not everyone will share the same path. It's this non-advocacy of a specific route that makes it such an interesting read. For many, attendance at Mass, the mosque, the temple or church, regardless of religion, were rituals taken for granted each week or each day for much of childhood. Today, for these same lapsed-religious people, a visit to a church would be, at best, an anthropological curiosity. Ms Coen's book is an interesting primer for those who feel they may want to re-examine the secularity of modern society. It can also be recommended for anyone who identifies with a specific religion, keen to explore concepts beyond mere (lip) service attendance.

Check out Mary Elizabeth Coen's website and follow her on Twitter.