Emily Maguire (3 stars)

The Gospel According to Luke (Serpent’s Tail)


Acclaimed Australian author Emily Maguire’s latest book is nothing if not topical. It centres on Luke, a young Pastor of the Christian Revolution in Sydney, full of God and staunchly opposed to the sexual health clinic across the street. He tries to convert its overtly secular counsellor Aggie, but in the process falls hopelessly in love. A forbidden affair commences, one that would be complicated enough were it not exacerbated by Honey (a pregnant, lonely teenager, whom both are determined to ‘save’) and a rogue bunch of militant religious mentalists, hellbent on punishing all involved.

Packing in more issues than a Hollyoaks omnibus, this novel reads like a tragic Shakespearean romance, given a coarse 21st century rubdown. Maguire’s simple prose neatly juxtaposes Luke’s florid preaching against Aggie’s cold realism with impressive authority. The book perhaps raises more questions than it answers at times, but is certainly grim enough to entertain, if not enlighten.

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