|Sonia Singh: Goddess for Hire|
Avon Trade (Trade Paperback), ISBN 006059036X
About one-third of the way into Goddess for Hire, Sonia Singh's debut novel, a character turns to the heroine and says, "You're incredibly spoiled, you know that?" I could not have said it better myself.
The heroine Maya Mehra struggles with many problems. Single, thirty and unemployed, she lives at home with her parents. Helpful older female relatives insist on matching her up with a nice Indian boy. As if she didn't already have enough to worry about, devotees then reveal her as the incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali.
Suddenly Maya must protect the weak and help the helpless, all the while hiding her new identity from friends and family, dodging a Kali-hating fanatic, and wooing her new flame. All of this while dressed in the latest fashions, driving a stylish car, and living purely on mochas and martinis, of course.
Do I sound less than reverent? I confess I found nothing sympathetic about Maya. She embodies the antithesis of everything I look for in my female protagonists: overly concerned with her appearance, disrespectful and downright mean to others, and uninterested in the ethical questions of coming suddenly into untapped reserves of power. More importantly, she does not earn her riches. Maya accepts the things that are handed to her, and almost everything she gains by the end of the novel someone else hands to her. Even the fanatical Kali-hater wimps out of anything that resembles a challenging confrontation.
Did I find nothing praiseworthy in the novel? Singh writes with a witty, minimalist style that occasionally coaxed a smile out of me from one of her droll observations. Ram, Maya's eccentric swami, stands out as the most memorable and endearing character. To make his acquaintance could be reason enough to read the book. Unfortunately, I can give no other reason to do so. Goddess wannabes should look elsewhere for divine inspiration.
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