The book starts after the death of “the Holy Man,” a guy named Joe who everybody visited because they believed he was holy. Just before dying in a faraway country, Joe anointed Anna as his successor, but when she returns home, not everybody — including Anna — is so sure. After all, she is quite judgmental about Joe’s teacher, Chen, who runs a spiritual resort called Universe-city where he promises people immortality and seems to worship stuff.
Bad guy, right? … Not so fast.
All of Anna’s supporters leave her — her husband, her body guard. They are seduced by women and stuff.
Really bad, right? … Think again.
Anna leaves Joe’s hermitage — which is destroyed and looted anyway — and opens a tea house in town. In one of my favorite exchanges, her lover, Drang (who doesn’t have a brother named Sturm), says to her,
“My father tells me that you have given up all thoughts of being the holy man’s replacement and are going to keep running the tea shop.”
“This is good. It’s only when you completely realize you are not ready for something that you begin to be ready.”
Anna serves tea, takes in a dog named Bear who she insists must be a vegetarian, cares for her kids, and learns T’ai Chi — a metaphorical way of saying she makes love with Drang and learns even better to go with the flow of her life, always a tad skeptical about this notion of being a holy woman.
Is she or isn’t she? I won’t give away the ending.
I’m fascinated by the self-publication of this book, following commercial publication of the first two in the series. I’m saddened that it’s not been reviewed. In her biography on Outskirts Press (publisher), Trott says:
With The Holy Woman, Susan Trott has joyfully completed The Holy Man Trilogy which began with the bestselling and much loved The Holy Man, followed by the less bestselling, but still loved, The Holy Man's Journey. These novels, along with 12 others she has written, all received great reviews, over 40 Hollywood movie options, and 11 foreign editions.
No longer a marathoner, Trott is a martial artist (T'ai Chi), kayaker, and ping-pong player. She lives on a houseboat in California in front of the mountain pictured on The Holy Woman cover.
My favorite line in this bio is “No longer a marathoner.” Like her books, that simple line has layers. She used to be a runner, yes, but there’s more. Is she retired from the commercial publishing fray? Did she stop needing to have bestselling books? Is she serving tea on a houseboat to anybody who makes the trek to find her? What’s in that tea … and how can I drink some?
To buy the book, go to page 3 of Betsy's Bookstore.