This newer creation of Diamant, Good Harbor, shows her maturation as an author. The story is more like a walk in the everyday changing life of a middle aged women. I can attest, what we have to go through is insane, everyone having difficult but separate problems that are so twisted that you can't share them with your spouse (umm, an affair would be an example), or your children and often not even your friends. They eat away at you, bother you, and make you absolutely mad while you are trying to hold together your family and your own sanity. And, if you don't think your friends are having these problems, then you are just not telling you about them.
Anita Diamant makes the best of this middle aged situation by weaving a dual female friendship into the everyday drama of two Jewish woman, Kathleen Levine and Joyce Tabachnik. This is a good discussion book for middle aged female friends, probably not so great for the young woman who don't have a clue what being a middle aged mother is all about. This book was not heavy in plot, but heavy in subplots. It was more like a detailed painting of two woman's lives, beautifully done and easy to read. I think the point is that woman need each other to survive middle life.
As for the statue of the Virgin Mary, she too ties into this story. I think she is the female friend that one of the less important characters needs to survive her own middle-motherhood, but that would be up to discussion. So, what do you think this statue of the Virgin adds to the story? Recall, this was a young Mary, solid in concrete and worshiped by a secret following.
Well, to help you out, here is a link to a reading guide from one of my favorite book browse sites, http://www.readinggroupguides.com/guides_G/good_harbor1.asp but they totally missed the Virgin Mary question.
If you would like to learn more about Diamant, here is a link to her web page and a list of all of her books: http://www.anitadiamant.com/books.asp?page=books.
She also has a blog. You can view this by clicking here: http://anitadiamant.blogspot.com/2011_06_01_archive.html