The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright
Published: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Fiction|Literary/Family Life/Contemporary Women
Edition: Kindle, 336 pages
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.
(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)
Ordinarily, I share a quote from the book I’m reviewing. However, I received an ARC before publication of this book. At the publisher’s request, ARC readers were asked not to quote from the copy received.
Currently, as a writer in the process of completing a manuscript, I’m pondering titles and book covers. Both are important in attracting readers. With The Canterbury Sisters, both captured my imagination and interest.
In high school and college, The Canterbury Tales fascinated me by present a time and places I’d no idea existed until then and likely would never see for myself. Likewise, the cover transported me to all things feminine–tea, fancy tea parties, women chatting.
The setting is in Canterbury, but there are no fancy tea parties. Consumption of tea is apparent, but the women chatting are not all fast friends. This lends an air of mystery to the real story we are reading.
Che Milan is the woman in our “real story” trekking off to Canterbury with her mother’s ashes. A promise Che made and now feels compelled to keep. Compounding her frustration is the sudden departure of her longtime boyfriend in a most sudden fashion.
In a series of coincidences, Che meets up with a group of woman in Canterbury with whom she can travel. As the synopsis states, the women adopt the Chaucer tradition of swapping stories as they walk.
Each story uncovers a layer of the woman sharing her story leaving them with a bit of personal vulnerability thrown into the mix of their days. If not for their ages in the “real story,” I would call this a lovely coming of age story. But these women, all of them but their guide and one woman’s teenage daughter, are in midlife or past. Yet, we all change with the changing seasons of our lives and often need to shed a layer or two.
This is a good book for summer reading or a lazy fall afternoon when the rains have begun and the leaves are falling.
The women are quirky but loveable, and Che finds herself drawn to each one for a specific reason. Watching those relationships evolve was, for me, a transformative experience. After all, I am one of those well beyond her “coming of age” season.
Meet Kim Wright:
FCC Disclosure: I received a copy of The Canterbury Sisters from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.
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