Well-written new age novel both energizes and inspires
I loved this book. Meryl Davids Landau’s new novel fulfills my requirements for good new age fiction: compelling characters, a strong plot, and a well-structured theme that supports the story without overwhelming it. New age novels must appeal to both the emotions and the intellect, and “Downward Dog, Upward Fog” does both.
Story: Lorna Crawford has a great boyfriend, longtime friends, and a well-paying job as special- events coordinator at a premium ice-cream manufacturer. But, out of sorts and filled with self-doubt, the 33 year old soon realizes that what she really wants is to stay on the spiritual path she keeps diving off of. Lorna jump-starts her efforts at a silent yoga retreat. But after returning from the mountain, she quickly loses her connection in the face of scheming coworkers, judgmental girlfriends, and, especially, her overly critical mother. Lorna also wrestles over her future with her boyfriend, a hot guy who takes her to the hottest places, but who can’t discern a meditation cushion from a toad stool. Reading spiritual books and visiting a channeler and energy healer move Lorna forward, but her confusion remains. Lorna’s seeking is put to the ultimate test when personal tragedy strikes. Will she come to truly understand that living spiritually has little to do with how you pretzel yourself on the yoga mat (although she gets plenty good at that), and everything to do with embracing the twists in everyday life? (From amazon.com)
Spiritual/metaphysical content: High. As Lorna works through her personal issues and grows spiritually, the author references information from books such as A New Earth, A Course in Miracles, and other sources that can help expand the reader’s knowledge. Lorna learns how to apply a number of spiritual concepts to better manage her relationships, both personal and professional. The author details specific yoga postures and practices (stomach wash, anyone?) that helped me gain a deeper understanding of unfamiliar spiritual techniques. She shares practical meditation techniques, mindfulness tips, and mind/body/spirit principles that everyone can use. In particular, I enjoyed reading about the power of joining a spiritual community.
Landau does a great job of describing what living a spiritual life feels like, including the “high” that can come from living in the moment and learning to apply spiritual techniques to everyday life. However, she also makes it clear that the goal is not the elation, or even the occasional peaceful moment in meditation, but the “lingering calm that sustains every moment, regardless of what transpires.”
My take: I’ll say it again: I loved this book. New age novels must entertain and educate; they must appeal to both the emotions and the intellect, and Downward Dog, Upward Fog does this in spades. Meryl Davids Landau’s writing is excellent, and she spins an engaging tale that will appeal to readers who enjoy the lighter tone of chick lit.
My only observation is that the book has an unrealistically happy ending; in the real world, living a consistently spiritual life does not guarantee happiness. However, the feel-good ending is in keeping with the chick lit genre. I felt energized and inspired when I finished the book, which is precisely the point.
Downward Dog, Upward Fog, by Meryl Davids Landau
Published by Alignment Publishing, 2011
Paperback, 285 pages
Buy at Amazon