The Goddess is returning!
She takes shape in the hands of an Episcopal priest’s shy, retiring wife. She invades the dreams of a grande dame who thinks women priests are a scandal. She lures a poker-playing ex-convict onto unfamiliar terrain, literally. Then there is the mysterious old man in the wood, who’s been watching, waiting for a sign of her return.
Who is the Goddess? Where has she been for so long? What does she want from the four human beings whose lives she is turning upside down and inside out?
As they confront these questions, Esther, Spencer, Marvin and Fergus find themselves drawn together, forging friendships across boundaries of age, class and race, discovering—and recovering—powerful, erotic passions. All their encounters, with themselves and each other, lead them deeper into Blackwood, an old estate that shelters an imperiled grove of trees sacred to the Goddess, a grove it becomes their mission to save.
The Return of the Goddess, A Divine Comedy marks Cunningham’s first explicit exploration of Christianity and the power of a divine feminine, long forgotten, obscured, and suppressed by the Church. She went on to write The Maeve Chronicles, featuring her iconic, outspoken Celtic Magdalen. The Return of the Goddess and her most recent novel, Murder at the Rummage Sale, take the reader inside the world of Cunningham’s origins where a gap in a wall leads from the church to the sacred grove.
Twenty-five years after its first publication The Return of the Goddess, A Divine Comedy remains a classic in what has become a movement, both within established religions and beyond, to reclaim the goddess and to embody her return.
Combining an exploration of the mystical with an intellectual point of view, this strange but captivating novel measures the relationship between pagan rites and modern Christianity. Esther Peters, mousy wife of a charming yet domineering Episcopal priest in a small Hudson River town, unwittingly shakes the foundations of her existence finds her world turned upside-down when she uses her sons' homemade playdoughsp per galley to craft a small statue of a fertility goddess. Suddenly she finds herself attracted to an ex-pimp; drawn to the magical estate Blackwood, with its feisty mistress and enigmatic caretaker; and questioning her marriage as she begins to examine her own religious beliefs and earthly needs. Before long a new religion appears to be taking root. With solid characterizations and a fluid narrative, Cunningham ( The Wild Mother ) gracefully crosses the borders of plausibility into a luminous metaphysical realm. If her prose is at times overwrought and the plot chock-full of happy coincidences, these weaknesses are easily ignored in favor of generally fine storytelling that brings an imaginative twist to the often cliched theme of a woman's self-discovery.