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 Prose's satirical eye focuses on what should have been an excellent targeta cult of goddess-worshippers intent on healing a lovelorn female's heartbut she fails to hit home with the gleeful vigor so evident in Primitive People (1992) and Bigfoot Dreams (1986). Having just turned 30, crushed to find that she's still just an underpaid fact-checker at a New York fashion magazine, and recovering from yet another destructive love affair at that, Martha is spending a solitary weekend at Fire Island when she stumbles across a wacky-looking, all-female druid ceremony taking place on the beach. Noticing that the group's leader is drowning in the chilly waves, Martha spontaneously saves her lifeand is thus sucked into the maelstrom of a fervent goddess-worshipping cult peopled with pseudo-academic oddballs named Hegwitha, Titania, Freya, Isis Moonwagon, and so on. Clearly, the situation has comic potential, and the cast of female fanatics has been provocatively assembled. But Prose can find little for them to do following this encounter. Though Martha tags dutifully along, helping celebrate the solstice, spouting mangled revisionist feminist history and female-centric jargon, and participating in some routine backstabbing and weepy late-night confession fests, the goddess- worshippers' antics never amount to much more than an occasional silly line or ho-hum revelation. Meanwhile, Martha's character remains paper-thin, and the worshippers themselves never move beyond sketchy caricature, as they travel to Arizona for a doomed encounter with Native American healer Maria Aquilo (``Maria does vision quest. She does sweat lodge. She does dream work and Talking Stick and drumming and spirit dance intensive''). In the end, Prose solves her heroine's problems by sending an eligible male down the desert road to rescue heran anticlimax for the reader as much as for Martha's loony friends. An execution as inexplicably lifeless as its heroineand a disappointment from this highly gifted author.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-374-17371-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1995


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