TEMPLE DANCER, a novel of awakening and connection, spans the distance of time, space and culture through the parallel lives of Saraswati, a young temple dancer in India, after the Raj, and Wendy, an artist living in contemporary New England.
In the early years of Indian independence temple dancers, once auspicious women, were profaned after thousands of years of service and banned from the temples. Fifty years later, Wendy abandons her art, turning her life upside down in her struggle to be a “good enough” mother. Both women obliterate boundaries and defy societal mores, mining the borders of consciousness from which art arises. These border states are often spiritual, often trance-like, sometimes dissociative, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes frightening, and always about love.
The novel opens in 1997 on a crowded train in southern India. A mysterious encounter between two women-one an older elegant Indian, the other a young American artist-leads to the exchange of a dusty red book, and an appeal: You must show the world how we danced with God! Years later, on reading the lost diary, Wendy is transported on an unforgettable journey into the ancient and erotic world of the revered devadasi, a world of dance and devotion, music and mysticism, restraint and release, shame and disgrace. The diary opens a portal between two lives that includes affairs of the spirit and the flesh manifest through sacred practices, through the making of art, the making of love, and most of all through love itself.
TEMPLE DANCER is a lush read, and a richly atmospheric journey deep into the history and magic of female sacred sexuality and spiritual transcendence. The tragic yet triumphant stories of both women are enriched by the foundations of yoga philosophy and the divine enigma that entwines the lives of two unlikely souls.