The Bond Between Women
A Journey to Fierce Compassion
China Galland
Riverhead Books: New York, 1998
344 pp.; $25.95 (cloth)

reviews 99 winter 1998Can ferocity be spiritual? Can anger be a positive force? Can this suffering world be saved, and each of our personal histories simultaneously rescued? In The Bond Between Women, China Galland relates her search for answers to determine if these things are possible. If they are not possible just yet, she’s driven by pain—hers, and the world’s—to make them so.

This book narrates Galland’s quest to resolve her personal pain and rage and her examination of the outrageous suffering that exists in many parts of the world. Implicitly, the book exhorts each of us to be as brave, to act as forcefully for the good as do the goddesses and real-life heroines Galland presents.

As with most pilgrimages, her questions aren’t clear when she first sets out. She quests through Asia and South America; by the end of the book, she’s dancing in a park in her home town of San Francisco, feeling integrated, no longer struggling. If we wonder at that point what she is planning to do about the world’s pain, we have the book in our hands as an example.

The first way station is Nepal, where we see Galland receiving spiritual teachings from lamas and worrying about rampant child prostitution and AIDS. Here, the main theme of her personal suffering is reflected in global problems of sexual cruelty and ignorance. And she’s very angry about all of it. Galland remembers being raped at the age of four by a family friend, who denies the event. This complex, pervasive trauma drives her to seek resolution as an adult. She connects this story with themes beyond herself: encounters on her journey are woven in with tales of local goddesses, travel observations, and interviews with exceptional women whom she seeks out and adopts into her personal pantheon of allies.

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