I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Soulmates by Jessica Grose
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on June 13, 2017
Genres: Adult, Adultery, Contemporary, Cults, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Marriage & Divorce, Psychological
Source: TLC Book Tours
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“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.
Soulmates is a gripping, satirical look at a woman’s attempts to make sense of why her husband left her to become the other half of a yoga-instructor couple, and to ultimately find out why he’s later found dead along with his mistress in a cave in the New Mexico desert. While Dana digs deeper into her husband Ethan’s life both before and after he left her, she finds herself falling in with the same cult that Ethan had become entrenched with to ferret out the truth–which could be bad or good…
Dana thought she was finally in a good place several years after her husband Ethan left her and disappeared into thin air. Work was her life as she was trying to make associate at her law firm by working 60-80 hour weeks, never taking any vacation days off. She works, she goes home and cooks dinner, and she sleeps, then she repeats. But then she sees her husband’s face on the cover of the national newspaper, along with the story of his body and that of his girlfriend Amaya having been discovered in what they cops calling a murder-suicide. Dana doesn’t believe that the Ethan she’d married is capable of murder, and when she’s asked to travel to New Mexico to talk to the police, she takes things one step further and books a stay at the expensive, exclusive yoga retreat run by a secretive yogi whom everyone seems to revere. The longer Dana’s there, the more yoga and meditation she does, the more cultish the place seems, and the more concerned she is for herself and for Ethan’s state of mind during his last months on earth.
Alternating chapters with Dana’s point of view with Ethan’s point of view through a book that he wrote and left in the yoga retreat library gave a well-rounded insight into the characters’ heads, as well as a few chapters of pertinent side characters who had chapters devoted to them as well. You really get to see how two people were in a marriage and saw their relationship completely differently than each other. Dana thought they had some problems, but they were pretty solid. Ethan was unhappy, unfulfilled, and emasculated, and was looking for anyway out that he could get. And he finds that way out in his yoga-practicing coworker Amaya and when the elusive yogi suddenly takes him under his wing, taking the both of them to a compound in New Mexico to teach yoga and live at the resort.
I give Soulmates a four out of five. Quite honestly, reading about all of this new age-y yoga cult business reminds me why I kickbox instead of do yoga as exercise–I just don’t buy into the lovey-dovey everything is great and wonderful stuff. There’s the mystery of did Ethan really kill Amaya then kill himself? The answer to that wasn’t what I was expecting. But the bigger story here was Dana’s searching for her true self, away from being a workaholic who was obsessed with why her ex-husband left her for another woman. Dana’s ending was something that I’m not sure I liked or not. I’m going to have to sit on that ending for a while and let it sink in. I really liked Jessica Grose’s satirical way of looking at cults and the people who join them, and her writing style made for an enjoyable read.
About Jessica Grose
Jessica Grose is a writer and editor. She was previously a senior editor at Slate and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, Marie Claire, Spin, and several other publications, and on Salon.com. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
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Jessica Grose’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for SOULMATES:
Friday, June 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Saturday, June 24th: The Desert Bibliophile
Tuesday, June 27th: Bewitched Bookworms
Friday, June 30th: Sara the Introvert
Monday, July 3rd: Wining Wife
Wednesday, July 5th: Dreams, Etc.
Thursday, July 6th: StephTheBookworm
Friday, July 7th: Jathan & Heather
Monday, July 10th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, July 11th: Art @ Home
Wednesday, July 12th: My Military Savings
Friday, July 14th: Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps