If you’re looking for an opportunity to hole up with a book and pretend you’re living the good – or at least warm – life, poolside in the Hamptons or at a luxurious retreat on a remote Greek island, let me recommend Goddess by Deborah Hemming.
On a flight to New York at the end of her first book tour, up-and-coming writer Agnes Oliver meets Jack Verity, the handsome filmmaker and ex-husband of Geia Stone, a famous actress turned wellness guru, whose popular lifestyle brand Goddess™ promotes controversial therapies and expensive beauty tools in the name of self-care and inner nourishment. Jack invites Agnes to a party in the Hamptons, where she meets Geia and finds herself welcomed into the guru’s inner circle.
That summer, Geia arranges for Agnes to attend the Goddess™ Summit, an exclusive wellness retreat held on a remote Greek island. There, Agnes observes many strange happenings she can’t explain, as one by one the other guests seem to fall under the spell of their enchanting host. When Agnes begins to discover who Geia really is, she realizes it’s up to her to protect the other women at the summit from an unexpected and unwelcome fate.
A propulsive and captivating story about beauty and influence, self-doubt and seduction, Goddess is an electrifying new novel from a talented writer to watch.
This book is driven by Agnes and her complicated life. She is hung up on a previous relationship that ended, uh, a while ago. She is living off the success of her debut novel, but overshadowed by the looming deadline of her second book. She is haunted by the imperfect relationships that she has with her family of origin. When it all amounts to what feels like too much, along comes this opportunity to get away to Mastika and attend a Goddess™ retreat while also documenting the experience for Vogue. Irresistible, right? Well, as you can imagine, all is not what it seems.
The Jack storyline is a delightful little romantic idea, but it’s hardly a major part of the story. More interesting is the relationship between Agnes and Jack’s ex, Geia. It is, after all, Geia who lures Agnes away and provides her this great opportunity. It’s Geia who treats Agnes to the biggest and best in new-age health and body care. And it’s Geia who captures Agnes’s imagination through a glimpse of a late-night full Moon ritual upon their first meeting.
Goddess is Hemming’s second book. Her first, Throw Down Your Shadows, was a finalist for the 2021 ReLit Novel Award.
Goddess will hit the shelves on February 14th, but is available for presale now. Thanks to the fine folks at House of Anansi Press for sending me a copy in advance.