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The Return of the Goddess: A Divine Comedy…
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The Return of the Goddess: A Divine Comedy (1992)

by Elizabeth Cunningham

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The events in this great big (in every sense of the word) celebration of a book begin on All Hallow’s Eve, when Esther Peters, wife of the local rector, finds she has unthinkingly fashioned a primitive and sexually abundant figure of the Goddess out of play dough.
Something huge has been set in motion, something that will change Esther and the small town of White Hart for ever.

Elizabeth Cunningham has created a host of wonderful characters, each perfectly realised and, thanks to the depth of her imagination and observation, each starting from the page to pull the reader inwards and onwards. But it’s the Goddess herself who flows through everything, deepening the work with her legacy of magic – imparted so skilfully by the author that the teaching throughout the book – teaching that ranges generously across different belief-systems – could pass unnoticed. It could almost be called a Novel of the Mysteries. And Elizabeth Cunningham is well-qualified to impart the Mysteries – being not only a practising priestess but:

… a direct descendant of nine generations of Episcopal priests. She grew up hearing rich (sometimes terrifying) liturgical and biblical language. When she was not in church or school, she read fairytales and fantasy novels or wandered in the Wood next door to the rectory. (quoted from her website.)

This is a novel with many layers, not least of which is humour – the subtitle, A Divine Comedy does not lie – one with built-in empowerment for women, one every woman should read, whatever beliefs she holds. ( )
  bookwitch | Nov 2, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0882681575, Paperback)

In the tradition of Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, this extraordinary novel describes the sudden reappearance of the erotic pagan goddess in the unlikely hands of an Episcopal minister's wife. Set in the atmospheric Hudson River Valley, the book tells the story of Esther Peters, who fashions an image out of Playdoh that will effectively transform her life and the lives of all around her. Spencer Crowe is a childless widow, bedridden and beset by greedy relations who lust to inherit Blackwood, her overgrown but valuable estate. Marvin Greene is an African American poker playing, tarot-reading, ex-convict, who recognizes the Lady as Luck and follows her surprising lead. And Fergus Hanrahan is the mysterious estate keeper who is connected to the enchantment of Blackwood. The full force of erotic love, the tension between paganism and Christianity, and the depiction of the feminine as the preserver of the earth all resonate in this powerful work of magic realism. Cunningham's contemporary treatment of the popular goddess theme is unique in present-day fiction, and her powers of storytelling make this a book that will speak to myriad readers, both male and female.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:45 -0400)

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