cover image THE DAUGHTERS OF JOY: An Adventure of the Heart

THE DAUGHTERS OF JOY: An Adventure of the Heart

Deepak Chopra, . . Putnam, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14948-1

Inspirational guru Chopra proves, as he did with previous fictional forays (including Soulmate and The Return of Merlin), that he's not a novelist. While the spiritual energy that inspires millions to spend billions on Chopra's books and seminars hovers like an aura around the novel, it fails to enliven the aimless plot or cardboard characters. Jess Conover is the dubious hero, a 28-year-old writer wandering listlessly through life in Boston. One day, a newspaper ad catches his eye. The ad reads: "Love has found you. Tell no one, just come." A life-altering journey begins. Jess heads to New Hampshire, where he meets elderly Dolly and lovely young Elena, two spiritually energized women who draw him into their mystical lives devoted to love. Even readers eager to suspend disbelief will find themselves resisting, not because the events related are so incredible but because they are so vague. The barely defined narrative progresses as Jess becomes leader of a "mystery school" and the two women impart bits of cryptic wisdom. Their pronouncements not only sound mysterious, but remain so for the simple reason that they function more as soothing mantras than meaningful life lessons. Hollow phrases like "Love makes the world possible" and "Nothing exists without you" are made to signify everything and nothing. The writing is serviceable, but the story and message are forgettable. Chopra's nonfiction fans might be willing to give the book a go, hoping for fictional fulfillment, but chances are even they will be disappointed. (Nov.)

Forecast:Chopra's fiction has never sold as well as his nonfiction, and this offering is unlikely to narrow the gap.