cover image SOULMATE


Deepak Chopra, . . Putnam, $22.95 (290pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14798-2

Mind-body healing guru Chopra takes another swing at fiction, although earlier efforts, including 1995's The Return of Merlin, never matched the huge success of his nonfiction titles like The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Appropriately, his latest tale tries to dramatize the way every soul must live through countless lifetimes, repeating particular experiences and lessons until it lets love, truth and bliss flow freely. Rajah is a young Indian-American intern in a psychiatric ward at a busy contemporary New York City hospital. Although he is engaged to Maya, who's Indian, educated and lovely, Raja falls madly for beautiful red-haired actress Molly, who seems to him to be a soul mate and a teacher, with her uncanny intuition and healing powers. The affair is at a fever pitch when Molly drops dead. Lucky for Raj, his lover returns, not as a ghost but as a huggably attractive soul who pops up to spoon-feed him just the right advice to heal psychiatric patients who have resisted every other method. Putting aside his cold Western medical training, Raja learns to heal with touch and love, counseled by Molly that "the soul wants to be seen." Predictably, Raja is put on leave by the hospital. He doesn't mind, however, that the incredibly tolerant Maya agrees to learn to be his soul mate in spite of his love for the invisible Molly. "You won't have me until you see through Raj," he counsels. "I won't have you until I see through Maya." Unfortunately, many readers will see through this wish-fullfilling fantasy and realize that it offers few of the pleasures of accomplished fiction. (Sept.)

Forecast:Despite Chopra's high profile, and despite the proven appeal of similar otherworldly guidance novels like James Redfield's The Celestine Prophecy, this cerebral fable's lack of drama and excitement and the staleness of its message make it doubtful that it will click with a lot of readers.