Roger Housden, Author . HarperCollins $17.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-06-008445-5

Housden (Ten Poems to Change Your Life) adds a mystical twist to a young man's search for love in this spare, allegorical tale of a Greek icon painter living in 1950s Italy who makes a pilgrimage to the tomb of 13th-century Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi. Aesthete Georgiou loves art and beauty, but is frustrated by his inability to find a worthy love in his native Florence. Dazzled by a book of Rumi's poems, Georgiou hopes that a journey to the poet's tomb at Konya, Turkey, will teach him something about love. His meandering trip takes him to a monastery in Meteora, Greece; to the shrine of Delphi, where he has a vision of the Virgin Mary, who poses a riddle that holds the key to his quest; and to other sites in Greece and Turkey, where he meets Orthodox priests, mystics, sheikhs and dervishes who teach him that romance between a man and a woman is not the only kind of love there is, and that accumulating knowledge doesn't necessarily help one to experience or understand love. Housden is a graceful storyteller and he offers an offbeat look at the relationship between divine love and earthly romantic love. Unfortunately, he tends to slip into treacly, bland affirmations ("All is already well. Listen to what your heart tells you, and you cannot stray far"), and the tidy, happily-ever-after ending belies some of the complicated questions about spirituality and self-knowledge that are raised through Georgiou's quest. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/30/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 144 pages - 978-0-06-157680-5
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