With thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for the advance review copy. Due to be published 19 May 2015.
Che Milan’s life is falling apart. Not only has her longtime lover abruptly dumped her, but her eccentric, demanding mother has recently died. When an urn of ashes arrives, along with a note reminding Che of a half-forgotten promise to take her mother to Canterbury, Che finds herself reluctantly undertaking a pilgrimage. Within days she joins a group of women who are walking the sixty miles from London to the shrine of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, reputed to be the site of miracles. In the best Chaucer tradition, the women swap stories as they walk, each vying to see who can best describe true love. Che, who is a perfectionist and workaholic, loses her cell phone at the first stop and is forced to slow down and really notice the world around her, perhaps for the first time in years. Through her adventures along the trail, Che finds herself opening up to new possibilities in life and discovers that the miracles of Canterbury can take surprising forms.
I found this a little slow to start with but once Che started travelling with the other women and we began to hear their tales, I found it a compelling story. Although the women seem a disparate group at first, it becomes evident that they share more similarities than it would first appear. I liked the concept of the women sharing their stories, just as the pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales did. Through sharing their stories and experiences of love, we come to know and understand each woman a bit more. Che can relate some of their experiences to events in her own life. Cut off from her normal life due to the loss of her phone, she starts to look back at her own life and what she has learned from her recently deceased mother. It is perhaps cliched to say that Che finds herself on this literal and metaphorical journey but I feel that by the end she did. The story to me spoke of the importance of companionship, having someone to share thoughts and feelings with. I love the idea suggested at the end that a book group could visit a local historical building and share their own stories of life and love!