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A long-ish review for a complicated book
on October 29, 2011
As you can gather from the book's title, LINDA GOODMAN'S LOVE SIGNS describes the typical relationship for each combination of Sun signs. It doesn't delve into the intricacies of entire birth charts, but neither do most romantically oriented astrology books, and the ones that do are drastically shorter than this 900-plus-page tome. Mentions of Moon and ascendant placements are frequent throughout the book, so they are indeed taken into account, but this book will not help you find them. You will need to know your and your lover's Moon, Venus, and Mars placements to get a more complete understanding of
Before cracking this weighty volume open, you need to know that Goodman employed a writing style that would probably be considered hokey if someone used it today. As befits the passionate, idealistic nature of Aries, Goodman's writing--in all her work, but especially in this book--frequently reads like "a New Age Bobby Goldsboro song," as one third party put it.
Perhaps you don't care about that, however, and simply want to ascertain some idea of this guide's usefulness. Unlike some romantic astrology books that try to dissuade the reader from starting a relationship with a member of a conflicting Sun sign, Goodman asserts that any pairing can be compatible; the two halves only need to undertake more work to understand each other. This interpretation is quite refreshing, and an approach that more occult books would do well to follow.
Unfortunately, the guiding flaw of this book needs to be addressed, particularly because it colors the advice this book gives and has gone unmentioned in the other reviews. LOVE SIGNS falls prey to one of the most persistent bugaboos of astrology books: gender binarism. Linda Goodman's Sun Signs set a precedent for this; the worst of it occurred in the "Taurus Man" and "Pisces Woman" sections. I can forgive this book for concentrating exclusively on heterosexual relationships, since the author was a heterosexual writing in the 1970s and probably did not believe that she was qualified to discuss homosexual relationships in any detail, but today's occultist in love may not find her views of men and women relevant. The gender binarism sometimes combines with the sentimental writing style to produce passages such as this, from the "Aries Woman/Aries Man" section:
"[R]eally now, dear Aries girl, when you're honest with yourself, would it all have been quite so magical if the fiery courageous Princess had come charging bravely into the woods on her horse to claim her Prince and rescue him from the Wicked Witch? ...Imagine dainty Cinderella, red-faced, puffing and perspiring, as she tried to shove a glass Hush-Puppy on her Prince's foot, to see if it fitted him. Mother Nature knows what she's doing. The Aries man-woman relationship will stand a better chance of success if she permits him to steal her Mars thunder" (44-45).
"Fiery, courageous" heroines are common in folklore: consider, for instance, the Goose Girl, Kate Crackernuts, Marjorie in "The Juniper Tree," and, of course, Gretel, who saved Hansel from the wicked witch who intended to eat him. But maybe they're simply "astrologically uninitiated" for failing to realize that they can only participate in the best kind of romantic relationship if they need princes to rescue them. Similarly cringe-inducing passages occur in other sections: "Capricorn Man/Pisces Woman" contains and makes no effort to criticize Muhammad Ali's infamous rant about keeping his wife at home; "Aries Man/Pisces Woman" implies that "Mother Nature smiles" at a man who ensures that his wife is "barefoot in the winter and pregnant in the summer;" "Leo Woman/Leo Man" approves of the literal interpretation of the ending of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, which is that an aggressive woman needs a man to dominate her; "Leo Woman/Pisces Man" encourages the man to rise above himself (or sink below himself, depending on your perspective) and "put [his woman] in her place" but gives completely different instructions to the Pisces woman who loves a Leo man--treat him as if he were a king and you were his loyal subject. If you're a fierce fighting woman who loves a nurturing, timid man or a nurturing, timid man who loves a fierce fighting woman, then this is not the astrology book for you.
Not to misrepresent LOVE SIGNS, Goodman's advice is useful, and her analyses are accurate. Furthermore, LOVE SIGNS is an interesting work; it is over nine hundred pages long, but never becomes boring. How many books can make that boast? In this case, the writing style helps; Goodman likes to use concrete details and imagery in her work, so the result is less like a cookbook of abstractions and more like a collection of spiritual short stories. Moreover, Goodman expresses feminist sympathies that clash with the "man of steel, woman of Kleenex" tone that blights other sections of the book. She frequently expresses support for the ERA, and in "Libra Man/Libra Woman," she writes, "Male chauvinism is just so uncoordinated...so unpoetic" (655). This book is a tough act for today's occultists to follow, and someone needs to write an astrology book about same-sex relationships that goes into as much detail as LOVE SIGNS.
Above all, the word that describes LOVE SIGNS best is "dichotomous." According to this book, characteristics are either masculine or feminine, and what characteristics are which depends on the way they have been viewed traditionally. Thus, in LOVE SIGNS, dominance, power, determination, and obstinance are masculine; submission, gentleness, passivity, dependence, and receptiveness are feminine. In other words, the liberated Aries woman and aggressive Aries man are so because they are "masculine;" the submissive Pisces woman and meek Pisces man are so because they are "feminine." This mindset produces a book that promotes both gender polarization and the women's rights movement, all while providing insight into archetypes of human personality. But it's never boring!