by Mireille Parker
Genre: Nonfiction / Memoir
Print Length: 392 pages
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Reviewed by Tucker Lieberman
Through cancer and divorce, a life coach in her 30s asks where her true passion lies.
Love Queen is coach Mireille Parker’s unique memoir of leading a balanced life full of love, career, and adventure while facing significant illnesses.
When Parker is 28, she meets Matthias, seven years younger. They marry swiftly and move between their respective homes of Perth, Australia and Lucerne, Switzerland. They fight all the time, which can be unpleasant but seems to suit their thrill-seeking and provocative personalities. They stick it out for years.
Though Parker has always prioritized health food and outdoor exercise, her lifestyle doesn’t prevent all illness. At 34, she finds a lump and is diagnosed with breast cancer. Her first inclination is to get diet advice from a naturopath, prepare coconut and dandelion tea, and chant affirmations on the beach. Before long, she does have to submit to surgery and other standard treatments. Three years later, a doctor finds cancer in her brain, and she has emergency surgery. While recovering, she faces up to some of her deepest insecurities.
In between the two cancer diagnoses, she and Matthias split up. Her Ayurvedic doctor describes this transformation as “vata and pitta,” “air and fire.” She immediately seeks new love affairs, which she describes in detail. One man is initially charming but turns out to be a poor conversationalist and, as she’s coming from a marriage that involved cycling through Switzerland, she can’t quite bring herself to accept the limitations of her new lover’s prosthetic knee.
From the beginning of the book, Parker’s personality is clear: extroverted, high-energy, bubbly and blunt, pulling no punches. The force is sustained for hundreds of pages. She’s candid about her beliefs and her insecurities, her spiritual practices, and her miscommunications. Love Queen reveals how passions and foibles make a person who they are.
Parker’s adventures come from a position of financial security, and readers may want to be aware of that going in. When she’s first diagnosed with cancer, she has no medical insurance, but fortunately that fact alone won’t threaten her health, as her choices include having surgery in Switzerland or letting her parents pay $10,000 out-of-pocket in Australia (which they are “happy” to do).
At this time, she’s also seeing a “shaman” for private $180 appointments. Matthias spends one month in Australia, and then they go to Switzerland, where her birthday gift is “a surprise trip up a mountain for sauna and massage.” Though newly diagnosed, shepays US $7,500 to enroll in a coaching academy in Los Angeles—a trip for which she needs to take $20,000 out of home equity and compares herself to peers who have more “cash to splash around.” She acknowledges that her parents have been “generous” and denies that this implies that she’s “dependent” on them.
She earns a little money as a teacher, and she refers to her overall situation as being a person with “limited funds.” Everyone’s funds have limits, and most people do tend to push them. Affluent people might sympathize with some of her financial struggles, like the expensive price of massages, but Love Queen doesn’t always feel like it answers the question posed in the book’s description:“how do we create joy with modest funds?”
In this book, Parker makes resolutions: “I’m going to be that beautiful, sexy, radiant woman who lives on brand.” She achieves multiple self-realizations, like “grounded presence is my alignment.” She admits her private desires: “Maybe the shamanic meditation teacher will be hot.” She writes letters to God: “Thank you for the sexual desire which made me seduce Matthias twice yesterday evening.” Having recorded details meticulously in her journal, she can tell us that, “after my bath and receiving the white light to activate the sorceress energy/6th chakra/third eye, we watched Big Bang Theory and then a show called “Undateables’.”
This memoir could be particularly valuable for people working with Parker in a life coaching capacity (or considering doing so) as it explains her process of clarifying her career aspirations and vocation. Speaking in an authentic, conversational voice, she describes her shifting attitudes, enduring convictions, approaches, talents, accomplishments, and the self-doubts that beset her along the way. Readers learn intimate details of her dating history, health food diets, and meditation sessions. Personality charts for herself—and her lovers—are in the back.
The memoir also offers insight to people who have similar interests in health, spirituality, dating, and relationship advice. Parker shows how green smoothies and healing crystals have their place, yet true happiness comes from a more intrinsic self-awareness. Love Queen is entirely focused on Parker’s own journey and epiphanies, but those who relate to her story may find it also sheds light on their own situation.
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