Weird and beautiful legend
of the Messiah
set in a near-future where contemporary Neo-Pagan
and New Age
ideas have supplanted Christianity
. (Beware: this has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus
.) In it, Jennifer Mazdaznan, a pious divorced woman (and failed cleric), is either electrocuted or struck by Divine Light on the Summer Solstice
while servicing an electrical relay, and becomes impregnated (either by a rapist or....) The subsequent novel is about her pregnancy
and the birth of Valerie, her daughter.
What gives the novel its strange flavor is the way that the "post-Revolution" culture (their phrase) is inextricably folded into our own: technological advance has stopped short at a level comparable to the 1980's (when it was written), while religion has grown to permeate all daily doings. As in Orthodox Judaism, every small action of everyday life is sanctified either by a blessing or a ritual: also like some forms of Judaism, God is not explicitly spoken of -- most of the mythology has to do with the doings of heroes and mystically interpreted historical events.
Much has been made of the novel's supposed feminism: I personally, don't see it. Considering that most of the novel has to do with a woman who has little dealings with men (her father is dead, her husband forbidden to contact her), it's not so farfetched to have her speak and think mostly of the female heroes and entities of her faith. Men, it's hinted, have their own pantheon -- of course I could be wrong.
A valuable, touching, and funny book.