Make Me One With Everything

Penny works as the receptionist-cum-office manager at the Golden Spirit, an alternative therapy center in Edinburgh, Scotland. Recently divorced and suffering from deep-seated depression, she watches the goings-on at the center with a jaded eye. The therapists come and go with some being wackier than others, the clients are a mishmash of the bored and the crazy, the boss is a womanizing scoundrel, and Penny views it all from an emotionless distance. Until one day when the boss’ friend Martin shows up and draws her into his investigation of a strange new pop philosophy called The Thomas Doctrine and his search for his missing sister.

Against her will, Penny finds herself drawn to Martin and to his cause. She begins to notice changes at the clinic – whispered secrets, furtive meetings, anticipatory fluttering – and she realizes that the cult doctrine that Martin is investigating has invaded her workplace. As the people at the center prepare themselves for a visit by the guru Thomas himself, Martin’s search for his sister hits a string of dead ends. Penny can only hope as she gets deeper and deeper involved in The Thomas Doctrine that she is not jumping off a cliff into oblivion.

Caroline Dunford’s is a fascinating if somewhat confusing tale that will keep the reader in constant suspense. It is populated with a colorful cast of characters that are so well drawn as to feel real. Penny is something of an unreliable narrator, and the story frequently collapses into a series of her philosophical ramblings and periods of angst, which leads the reader to wonder if the version of the story that she is presenting is the entire truth. She is extremely likeable in spite of this, however, and she has a wry self-deprecating humor that is very appealing. The group of therapists and clients at the clinic are an incredibly dysfunctional lot. Readers will be tempted to hold their breath in anticipation, because the center is a train wreck waiting to happen. Tension builds gradually throughout the story, and when the climax occurs, it is neither neat nor pretty, but it is very interesting regardless. Readers looking for a well-written story that requires more than a little thought to read will enjoy Make Me One With Everything immensely.

Reviewed by: Whitney