Published by: Lulu Press
ISBN-13: 978-1430324836

Reviewed by: Nanette Rayman Rivera

Genre: Fiction
"I think living the life of a human being would be like holding a flame by the hand" — Spirit Rose

The New Parcival - A Mosaic of Questions is Beate Sigriddaughter's foray into the world of spirits, women's spirits. The novel showcases the women left behind, faceless and nameless, while the knights go off to fight their fights. These women are no longer invisible. The novel's protagonist, Spirit Rose, a spirit guide, delivers an eloquent monologue at the beginning about language, war and worry.

"So in the end it's all about war and asking questions and confusions. The word "worry", alas, though it's so very inviting, won't quite fit into the standard etymological constructs. It comes from "turn" and "struggle." But to my mind, war and worry are braided enough. As a spirit, I have the privilege to braid such things."

This protagonist is at once serious and playful. She wants, after all, woman to be all things. Woman as warrior, lover, keeper of the human race. Woman obtaining the respect and love that is due her.

"And so I told them - Spirit Blue and Spirit Fox, that is - we should disguise the new knight well this time, to give everything a chance to come to fruition - and to maybe even stick for awhile before the wrong ones get their hands on things and twist them all round again. Let's hide the knight in a woman's body, I suggested. That way nobody will recognize her at first, and a great deal can get accomplished before anybody realizes what's going on."

We follow Spirit Rose's charge, Lucy, through all her endeavors, her life and loves, her loss. Intertwined throughout the novel, Parcival does his knightly work. The story opens with Parcival being born to his mother, Queen Herzeloyde, who then takes him to the forest to raise him in seclusion. But Parcival sees a most gorgeous creature high on a prancing horse, and he thinks him to be God. He is only a knight. Parcival is angry that his mother never told him about knights. And soon he's gone, off to pursue knighthood. Her dreams for an escape from all this killing and blood are dashed.

The novel travels back and forth through time, showing in breathtaking lyrical prose the sad, empty, unfulfilling lives of women in all centuries. We follow the life, in particular of Lucy, Spirit Rose's charge, through her professional life as a therapist. We find ourselves privy to men's confessions and feelings as if we were there in the room. Spirit Rose speaks many monologues throughout, railing against the way life turns out. She even has a monologue about Lucifer. One of the most compelling parts of this book tell the stories in gory detail about the rape of a woman. I held my breath. The prose was cinematic and I felt myself right there, experiencing the horrid acts of physical and soul abuse. At first I wanted to skip over it, but I was pushed back to those pages, to read, to empathize, to hope this woman would someday be whole.

"But I still want to ask this: There are millions of people hanging on the cliffs of potential nuclear war, chemical war, biological war. Sometimes it just makes you wonder, so what's one little uninvited fuck into one little woman's vagina compared to all that? And then, if I persuaded myself that I knew the answer, it would be this: Everything." - Spirit Rose

There is a hope in this book that belies the explicit tragedies that occur within its pages. A shining spirit, this Spirt Rose; a shining spirit, this lovely novel.

Beate Sigriddaughter's work has appeared in many literary journals. She is the fiction editor for Moondance Literary Journal and she generously established the Glass Woman Prize for fiction and creative nonfiction to give a voice to women. http://www.sigriddaughter.com/GlassWomanPrize.htm

Nanette Rayman Rivera writes from New York City. Her first poetry collection, Project: Butterflies was published this year by Foothills Publishing. A chapbook, alegrias, was published by Lopside Press. She won the first Glass Woman Prize for Only the Homeless Find the Divine, a chapter from her memoir that she is shopping around. In 2006 she was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes - one for poetry and one for non-fiction, Gimme Shelter, another chapter for her memoir. Chantarelle's Notebook nominated her for Best of the Net Anthology in 2007. Publications include Dragonfire, The Worcester Review, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Barnwood, The Pebble Lake Review, Anti Muse, Arsenic Lobster, Pedestal, Lily, Sein Und Werden, Carousel, Carve Magazine, MiPOesias, Stirring, Wicked Alice, Small Spiral Notebook, Three Candles, Jack, Green Silk Journal, 5 Trope, Aoife's Kiss, Wheelhouse, Mannequin Envy, Velvet Avalanche Anthology, A Little Poetry, Snow Monkey, Poesia, Her Circle, The Centrifugal Eye, and Red River Review.

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