This wonderful book defies any simple review. Its difficult to confine to any summary or set of words other than the author's own. It is broad, deep, elegantly simple at times and then profoundly complex all on the same page. A totally different experience, ever richer, unpacks on each encounter I've had so far. Its heart-breaking, heart-mending and heart-opening.
So...Instead it makes more sense to me to speak about what happens when one meets the book, encounters the author's voice, and through her enters the presence of the Strong Woman she so passionately introduces now to the rest of the world. Regardless of our faith or lack thereof, our gender, our culture, or our political creed.
I started to preorder this weeks ago out of curiousity, but largely skeptical. Discussion of the mother archetype and such religious themes carries echos of familiarity from either my upbringing or academic past. Some have been decidedly not pleasant. And for the most part I would say I'm not very comfortable "believing" in them -- particularly if I sense persuasive efforts to press me into cooperation with a view held by one particular organized or institutionalized version. My preferred entrance into the spiritual, sacred, or holy is more easily recognized in the nonverbal world of nature. Nonetheless, I have greatly enjoyed and benefited from several other works from Dr. Estes. These convinced me that her newest book, UnTie the Strong Woman, might be quite different than my expectations. Indeed, it is not like any other book I have ever encountered.
In brief, because there is so much for each person to individually discover on their own, and not wishing to spoil any secrets I will just say that I was awe-struck by the following:
1. This book and its message radiates beauty. From cover to cover. Not just the dust jacket. But a collection of beautiful color images generously dispersed throughout the book that clearly amplifies the stories, the intention, the quality, and wisdom that the author has refined over years in order to communicate her passionate love for Our Lady, Blessed Mother, the Source with many names.
2. The hope and realness that permeates shared portions of Dr. Este's personal journey, revealed more here than I've seen in previous books. And even more ... the genuine respect, compassion and love she passes along to her readers. I've not found any boasting -- but instead a quiet, persistent, incredibly skilled poetic manner in which she gives flesh and blood to her conviction that the Blessed Mother loves the Wild Soul in all beings.
3. It has a unique design and quality that meets me where I am at the moment and expands tenderly to reach my soul. It doesn't have to be read cover to cover. More like interacting with the Dao De Jing or creating a sand-tray. A story that fits is often right where it falls open, as if it calls.
I'll want to visit over and over. Am thinking this is a text to be treasured the rest of my lifetime. I feel no coercion. Refreshing, even when it reaches to the dirt, grit and blood of life and death -- lending meaning and greater purpose to some of humanities darkest hours and its most joyous celebrations. Though in my younger years certain words/phrases used to flow easily from my mouth, too easily, too empty and too trained so that I rarely am comfortable uttering them now ... this is one occasion in which they feel required. Hence, while reading this book I feel I am indeed "Standing on Holy Ground", experiencing sacred cries and community across centuries and cultures. UnTie the Strong Woman -- it is a Gift to us, to me. One I know I will be sharing.
The preceding review is for the printed hardcover book. The CD audiobook is clearly and closely related, but in my view a work all its own, with some important gifts and differences from the printed text. It is NOT simply a recording of the author reading her book page after page. I find substantial value in the character and art work of both. Unfortunately, Amazon is organized in such a way that we cannot enter separate reviews for both works. Thus, for those interested, please look under comments for information about the CD collection.