oh my god it's the Thorn Birds!!! ( except it's in America).
Our heroine ( a sort of Kate Chopin's Awakening type for the millenium ) travels to an island off of South Caroline where spiritualism and eroticism combine in the form of a sexy, ascetic Benedictine Monk.
So, there's lots of brooding and steamy glances and some good descriptions of a historic chair which serves as the hub of the combined Higher and comparitively lower and lustful world.
Whatever. It's all entertaining for lunch breaks at Mariposa Market but a far cry from a real emotional tweaker like The Awakening.
For instance, our heroine returns to the pretty island of her childhood because her mother purposely chopped off her finger with a machete and is now deemed psychologically deranged because she keeps it in a mayonnaise jar beside her bed.
( that's right Sue Monk Kidd, you keep those psychological shockers coming ! )
There's the stock lot: the mentally inept Benne who understands the town's adopted dog, the godmother, Kat; who serves as pendulum between Jessie and finger-decapitated mom and Mage, and a lot full of other eccentrics ( including Mr. Smouldery Richard-Chamberlain-in-waiting) and the poor, desolate husband at home ( who, incidentally, happens to be a psychiatrist).
But the water and rebirth motif is in full form and everyone is liberated and off on pilgrimages. Oooooo eeeee!
And, yet another bookclub perennial and New York Times Bestseller, well-reviewed by Publisher's Weekly gets ticked off of my list..... with another grizzly yawn.