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The Feasting Virgin, by Georgia Kolias.

July 23, 2020

The Feasting VirginThe Feasting Virgin, by Georgia Kolias.  Bywater Books, 2020.

FORTHCOMING:  July 2020.

3 stars

A light hearted book about a 38-year-old virgin who craves a baby, but rejects male involvement, and the young mother whom she teaches to cook Greek food while the two of them discover their love for each other.

Georgia Kolias grew up in a traditional Greek family in San Francisco. She holds Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and in English. Her essays have appeared in various journals and anthologies. She has worked in book publishing and other book-related jobs.  In her acknowledgements, she provides a more personal account of who she is.  She has had several miscarriages which left her yearning for a baby of her own, like her character does.  Today she is a lesbian with three children.

The novel focuses on two women.  Xeni grew up in a Greek immigrant family, where she learned everything that a Greek wife should be and do.  As we learn late in the book, she had experiences which led to her fear of men.  She desperately wants to have a baby and fervently believes God will give her a virgin birth if she is just “good” enough by traditional standards.  When she casually meets Callie and her baby, she agrees to teach Callie how to cook for her Greek husband. Callie is progressing, until her husband’s mother arrives for a long visit.  While there the mother seeks to break up Callie and Gus.  Gradually Xeni and Callie have been discovering their mutual affection, but have been hesitant to acknowledge their feelings.  Pressure explodes their secrets.

I liked reading about lesbians who discover that they were lesbians when they are almost 40, rather than as young college-age women coming of age who are so frequent in lesbian novels.  All the descriptions of the taste and smells of cooking and eating, along with lots of recipes, will appeal to readers who like to read and think about food.

But overall, I was disappointed in this book.  The characters came across as exaggerated and stereotyped.  At times they were funny, but often the humor was degrading.  Xeni is portrayed as elegant and capable, but it is hard to take a woman seriously who is so consumed by the belief that God will give her a baby while she remains a virgin. I remain unconvinced about the book’s ending.

This is a well intentioned book that I had hoped would be better than I found it to be.  I wish I could recommend more highly.

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