Holy Smoke, soon to be a new feature film from Miramax, is the story of Ruth, a beautiful young woman, who travels to India in search of truth, happily falling under the spell of an Indian guru and his obscure cult. Desperate to rescue her, her family lure her back to Australia, where she is forced to undergo an intense deprogramming treatment by cult specialist P.J. Waters.
Two days later and the battlegrounds have slowly shifted between counsellor and client. What started as a spiritual struggle about the nature of belief, becomes an intensely sexual and psychological relationship, as the protagonists begin to lose control.
This story of the deprogramming of a young Australian caught up in a cult in India is disturbing on many levels - notably the rights and wrongs of the case and on the question of who really needs rescuing. Is it beautiful, strong Ruth, severed from her first taste of warmth, spirituality and love in India, or her dysfunctional family? Or PJ, her odious deprogrammer, flown in post haste from the USA, to put her bang to rights? Given the harshness and philistinism of the life she has been leading (sketched in with an unerring sharpness), her rapturous tumble into the ashram seems an agreeable alternative. This is a good read and delivers, sotto voce, a wonderful sense of an Australian way of life and the strangeness of the landscape. Review by POLLY DEVLIN Editor's note: Polly Devlin is a journalist and author. She has also written an autobiography, Only Sometimes Looking Sideways. (Kirkus UK)
Number Of Pages: 259
Published: 1st July 1999
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 15.5
Weight (kg): 0.53
Edition Number: 1