Soulmates by Jessica Grose
“For anyone who has ever suspected something sinister lurking behind the craze of new-age spirituality, Jessica Grose has crafted just the tale for you. With the delicious bite of satire and the page-turning satisfaction of a thriller, Soulmates is a deeply compelling, funny and sharply observed look at just how far we will go to achieve inner peace.”—Lena Dunham
A clever, timely novel about a marriage, and infidelity, the meaning of true spirituality, perception, and reality from the author of Sad Desk Salad, in which a scorned ex-wife tries to puzzle out the pieces of her husband’s mysterious death at a yoga retreat and their life together.
It’s been two years since the divorce, and Dana has moved on. She’s killing it at her law firm, she’s never looked better, thanks to all those healthy meals she cooks, and she’s thrown away Ethan’s ratty old plaid recliner. She hardly thinks about her husband—ex-husband—anymore, or about how the man she’d known since college ran away to the Southwest with a yoga instructor, spouting spiritual claptrap that Dana still can’t comprehend.
But when she sees Ethan’s picture splashed across the front page of the New York Post—”Nama-Slay: Yoga Couple Found Dead in New Mexico Cave”—Dana discovers she hasn’t fully let go of Ethan or the past. The article implies that it was a murder-suicide, and Ethan’s to blame. How could the man she once loved so deeply be a killer? Restless to find answers that might help her finally to let go, Dana begins to dig into the mystery surrounding Ethan’s death. Sifting through the clues of his life, Dana finds herself back in the last years of their marriage . . . and discovers that their relationship—like Ethan’s death—wasn’t what it appeared to be.
A novel of marriage, meditation, and all the spaces in between, Soulmates is a page-turning mystery, a delicious satire of our feel-good spiritual culture, and a nuanced look at contemporary relationships by one of the sharpest writers working today.
Paperback; 320 pages
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 13, 2017)
Within a few dozen pages of Soulmates, I realized how much I missed my weekly yoga practice. Within a few dozen more, I realized there were certain aspects of yoga that I definitely didn’t miss. Specifically, that person who takes the new-age teaching to the next level. Usually, they smell strongly of nag champa. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, they are probably you.
Grose really tickled my satire bone. Her use of alternating voices between level-headed, but still holding pathetically hard on to her nonexistent marriage, Dana, and the prose of her ex-husband, Ethan, that attempts to aid in self-help while hilariously failing to sound philosophical, had me chuckling endlessly while rolling my eyes. My favorite movement is a good eye roll, so that really means something. I loved that despite the change in tone, voice, and perspective (even adding two chapters of backstory for other character’s perspectives), she was able to maintain tense so well which allowed the story to move along seamlessly.
That being said, I had such a love-hate relationship with Ethan. Honestly, I just really loved to hate everything he said. Grose did an amazing job making him sound both reasonably abandoned in his marriage, yet selfish and unsympathetic to anything that wasn’t his belief. Though, I swear if he mentioned his devotion to clean eating one more time, I was going to throw my quart of ice cream right in his child pose doing face.
Dana, on the other hand, had me skeptical from the beginning. Her eager, do good, perfectionist personality made me twitch from time to time. She is the type of character that you love to see do the right thing but when she falters slightly you want to grab her by the shoulders and scream in her face to get her act together.
There were so many times that I didn’t really know what was going to come next for Dana on her soul-searching adventure, but I definitely wasn’t expecting the ending. Without giving too much away, dang, girl, you crazy. Also, definitely put on The Leftovers soundtrack during all scenes involving ayahuasca. Trust me.
If you are able to find humor in the things that some people take seriously, this is the book for you.
RATING: 4 STARS
Guest review contributed by The Desert Bibliophile. Kay gives honest reviews that both showcase the pros and cons of every book that she reads/reviews with a twist of her own unique personality and humor. She also participates in regular posts within the blogosphere that often include mentions and throw backs to books she’s reviewed in the past.