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Holy Ghost Corner    by Michele Andrea Bowen order for
Holy Ghost Corner
by Michele Andrea Bowen
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Miss Thang's Holy Ghost Corner and Church Woman's Boutique is a store that caters to what the author calls black-church-lady clientele, which means it sells a lot of really fancy duds, purses, all sorts of religious aids and of course, hats galore. The owner, Theresa Elaine Hopson, is a single black woman in her forties who herself is a devoted church attendee at the local Gospel United Church. As a successful business woman, who's also a devout Christian, she finds the pickings slim when it comes to meeting a man who is on the same page as she is financially and morally. But, she's trying!

Miss Thang's is a very popular store and many people visit for social reasons, not just to shop. Theresa is well known in the community, and has all sorts of acquaintances and friends who drop in, so she knows a lot of what's happening around town. She also has a busy social life, as she's actively searching for Mr. Right. Her current escort is an assistant pastor at church, who is 52, single and considered a good catch. However, there's just something about Parvell that Theresa doesn't like, and she's decided it's about time to drop him. At the same time, one of Theresa's employees, Queen Esther, has a good-looking nephew who begins to appear on Theresa's horizon. Too bad he's not seen the inside of a church for years, because otherwise, he would be a perfect match socially, especially considering the serious shortage of eligible brothers around Durham.

Besides romantic problems, there are other issues that start to pop up, such as some seriously shady real estate deals in which many prominent church members appear to be involved. Theresa has to navigate these murky ethical waters, while at the same time discovering just what God has planned for her with respect to a future husband.

This novel takes a lighthearted and humorous look at the issues facing today's black Christian woman. It is peopled with hilarious characters, such as Queen Esther (an old lady who's always willing to hand out romantic advice), Baby Doll who wears cheap false teeth and jelly sandals, Glodean Benson (the wife of a prominent Bishop in the Holy Ghost denomination who holds the purse strings in the marriage), and Charmayne, a former ghetto kid who's moved up in the world. The writing style reminds me a great deal of the Maggody series by Joan Hess.

The characterizations, while exaggerated, are very recognizable to any long-time church attendee. Almost every church has a few of these people! As fiction, some things are a little far-fetched, such as the notion that an older man like Queen Esther's nephew Lamont (Theresa's new romantic interest) will suddenly turn to matters of religion and God without something really drastic precipitating this sudden about face. But it makes for interesting reading. This is an enjoyable book from a very promising author. Whether a Christian or not, I believe anyone who appreciates a light, humorous mystery will enjoy Holy Ghost Corner.

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