Can goddesses walk among us? Can an entire family really be cursed? Can a modern woman find her inner goddess?
In her debut novel (following her 2005 memoir North of Ithaka), Gage tells the tale of Maya Das. She has it all: a promising career in psychiatry, a family chock-full of successful physicians, a supportive best friend and a loving boyfriend. So why can't she manage to introduce her white boyfriend, Scott, to her Indian family? With her best friend, Heidi, and her residency-required therapist urging her to commit to her relationship and introduce him to the family, Maya is poised to assert her own independence. Yet the death of Dadiji, Maya's grandmother, far away in India, sets in motion not only some soul-searching but also a possible family curse. As a child visiting India, Maya had witnessed a father beating his daughter, dressed as a goddess and forced to beg on the streets. Maya begged her grandmother to intervene with the surprising result that the young girl was brought into Dadiji's home. Raised as a sort of servant slash inferior daughter, Parvati makes Maya and her older sister, Priya, uncomfortable. Indeed, Maya continues to wonder well into adulthood whether Parvati might actually be a goddess or have supernatural powers. Of course these wonderings conflict with her modern medical training, not to mention her family's practical approach to life. So when Maya's father discreetly calls to tell her Parvati has cursed the family, Maya is both dismissive and afraid. After her father's heart attack, her mother's hemorrhage, her sister's miscarriage, her brother's marital strife and her own personal and professional difficulties, however, Maya begins to take the curse much more seriously. A quest to India is in order. The journey offers Maya the chance not only to lift the family curse but also to assess her life, particularly her relationship with Scott and her own attitude towards her ethnicity.
Gage beautifully describes the waters that evoke the transformative moments of Maya’s journey. Yet Parvati, the curse-caster, remains mysteriously underdeveloped. A lovely read, but a missed opportunity to delve deeply into the superstitions that still lurk in our modern minds.