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The Temple of the Subway Goddess by Carolyn Lee Boyd

April Showers

April Showers

Why are clouds beautiful?

This is just one of the many metaphysical questions that wend their way through this delightful read by Carolyn Lee Boyd. The Temple of the Subway Goddess encourages the reader to pause and consider the underlying theme rather than rush headlong to decipher the ending.

Boyd’s imagery is startlingly beautiful. Her scenes come alive through the eyes of her various characters, each viewing the same world in a different way. The premise threaded through each of their lives is singular: What happens when a goddess touches your life? It is a question the reader absorbs as she reflects upon her own life.

Boyd avoids the trap of sugarcoating the results. Her characters struggle with this new dimension, sometimes enjoying, sometimes fearing the fate that has befallen them.

The central characters are Mira, a temple priestess from ancient times; Suzanne, a woman treading life’s waters without enthusiasm; Suzanne’s husband, Sam, who is not sure he likes his world shaken or stirred; and Isobel, a homeless woman existing on their stoop.

New York as a complete city is not represented, but bits of it are central to the theme, especially the transition from the concrete jungle to the wilds of rundown McKinley Park. Both civilization and the untamed land tug at Suzanne, whose complicated life unravels as she watches. The surprising part is her ambivalence, rooted in her lusterless existance. She wavers from wanting normal and wishing it away as the exotic dances before her eyes.

Although the primary focus is the feminine divine, Sam is not left dangling as Suzanne plunges from anguish to ecstasy. Sam too has lost his adventuress, childish self to the cloistered world of science. Occasional memories remind him of his boyhood self:

“To quiet the winds inside, he would go outside and look up. He saw the moon, so peaceful and open, so eternal and reassuring, and opened his arms to her. He stood, bathed in her light until he sensed, eyes closed, that he was being drawn into her embrace. Whether he was both in his backyard and in space for a moment or an hour, he did not know.” (page 48)

Suzanne’s familiar activities morph to new dimensions after Mira intrudes into their lives. Suzanne’s hairdresser offers this bit of wisdom:

“When women feel a change coming, they change their bodies first….Women worship their bodies and why not? What on earth is more beautiful? That’s how women keep their souls alive while all around them everyone is saying they have no souls. Our bodies keep the entire human race going. They deserve a wash and set every week.”

After leaving her hair dresser, Suzanne sees changes on the street too. Women no longer accept the pallid falsified self-images created by the fashion industry:

Women praised the voluptuousness of their own bodies…While the mannequins in the shop windows and models in the posters were frail shades of real women, almost everyone on the street was of a size that showed pleasure in living in the physical world of women. (page 180-181)

As she struggles to understand this path that chose her, Suzanne takes us along to a new way of thinking about our lives and choices. She opens our eyes to wonder if we let her. Would we make the same choices? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But these various views are sure to encourage us to consider the paths at our feet before we take another step.

To purchase this book through Amazon:

The Temple of the Subway Goddess
by Carolyn Lee Boyd

2 comments to The Temple of the Subway Goddess by Carolyn Lee Boyd

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