Quiver: Awakening the Goddess Within
Chrissie Anthony, 2015
When I was a boy my mother devoured Harlequin Romances. The paperback novels littered our book shelves filling the gaps between worn editions from of the Great Ideas Program and inspirational Lutheran literature. I wasn’t immune to my mother’s mixing of high and low culture, secular and non-secular. I discovered at a very young age, perhaps nine or ten, that I loved The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe only slightly less than Northanger Abbey.
I mention all this simple to get around to Chrissie Anthony’s debut novel, Quiver. I don’t read romance or sentimental literature, so it was difficult for me to embrace the novel. However, I’m glad I stuck with Anthony’s novel because it helped me see beyond my own biases.
Quiver is a romance novel to be sure, but one that’s less keen on pure fantasy or high-minded pomp and more on the casualness of rediscovering oneself. Anthony tells a story that is compelling in its honesty and conviction.
Anthony’s heroine, Eve, is nearly fifty and a widower of seven years, retired and looking to finally move on from her married life and grieving to a new stage. There’s more than a little bit of New Age nonsense permeating the novel. Eve doesn’t just find her gardening a pleasant hobby, it’s a metaphysical practice for her. Similarly, she obsesses about moon cycles, embraces astrology, and visits a psychic annually all done quite earnestly. I find it hard to take this type of person seriously yet at the same time I recognize this woman and it’s vital that her story not just be told but listened to.
Anthony’s novel doesn’t shy away from sexuality. It is far too common in literature and other media depictions of mature women for them to be sexless. So Quiver tries to place itself not as a novel of a young, hetero woman’s sexual liberation but of that of a mature, hetero woman. It’s far too familiar for us to see shriveled white men paw at women who are at minimum half their age; Anthony dodges the trite ‘flip the script’ trope instead writing Eve as a woman coming to embrace what she is most attracted to in herself and then making that her external desire.
Embracing the rom-com trope of Internet dating, Eve dives in and discovers all the horrid bumps, bruises, and trolls involved with it for people of any age. Yet she is able to allow herself pleasure through the process. Instead of resigning herself to a sexless existence, she discovers that she is still a sexual creature and one that wants what she wants. The empowerment of this is so very simple, yet so rarely presented in plain language that it can’t help but be compelling even for its saccharine presentation.
On a trip through Europe, Eve decides to take control of her sexual re-awakening. She looks for a male escort, she takes tantric workshops, and makes bold advances. These, of course, elicit positive and negative responses from her friends and family (the tension of which could be more acute to really pull readers in). When Eve finds the lover she wants, it’s a man that is the same age her husband was when they met and fell in love. What we see here is Eve not just reigniting her desires but embracing the fact that even as a mature women she still has a preference for the kind of companion that attracted her most strongly as a younger woman. Again, there is something so simple in this act that it feels shocking because we’ve been deprived of seeing it for so long.
Yet Eve doesn’t stop. She will not allow herself to be someone new by merely returning to what she was or wanted to be in the past. Anthony writes her heroine as genuinely striving to forge a new path for herself that is wholly her own, which eventually leads to exactly where she wants to be.
Like most romance novels, the strength of Quiver resides in just how well it presents desires and their fulfillment. To this end, Anthony has written a well-structured novel that moves along at a satisfyingly quick pace. I found the dialogue rather cumbersome and forced in parts as well as the insistence to on using a rather purple internal monologue. However, overall, Quiver is novel of sexual and spiritual awakening and as such acquits itself quite well. The genre of romance could do with more novels like Anthony’s.
After a long and successful career in education, the last twelve years as a school principal, often in the forefront of change and innovation, I started writing. My first book was a heart-wrenching memoir, The Hidden Journey – Melanoma up Close and Personal, a love story that moves with the seasons and the natural cycle that is life. My second book was an illustrated children’s book, Tahlia, You Can Do It! about the exploits of my brother-in-law Tony teaching my great niece Tahlia to ride a motorbike. My third published book, In the Garden of my Delights – Inspiration and Quotes for the Heart and Soul, was an uplifting book celebrating the unique beauty of my much loved garden. I also created an inspirational Australian quote website as a resource for schools and the community, www.australianinspiration.com.au. Australian Spirit will be published late 2016.
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