The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright ~Goodreads~
Published by Gallery Books 2015
Paperback edition 336 pages ~Book Depository~
I was sent this book via Netgalley for an honest review, thank you to the publisher.
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.
As soon as I saw this book on Netgalley I knew I wanted to read it purely because it was set in the city of Canterbury about a ten minute bus ride from where I live, and I adore it. So to read a book surrounding this beautiful place immediately took hold of my attention.
The story begins with Che Milan confronting two changes in her life- the death of her mother and the departure of her partner who has moved on to another. Along with her mother’s ashes is a message written by her mother requesting that she is to be taken to Canterbury Cathedral, the famous place of Chaucer’s pilgrims. On this journey, Che connects with a group of women who are all making their pilgrimage to Canterbury for their own personal reasons, some want to find healing, some forgiveness, closure or themselves. This is where the book becomes the tales of each of these women, and the internal growth of Che Milan.
These stories for the most part were interesting and Che herself was quite a compelling woman, but something was lacking for me and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it was a bit too light, and the solutions to their goals were easily achieved, even when it didn’t feel like it was going to happen.
This is my first Kim Wright novel and even though I wasn’t over the moon with the story, it was still well told and a nice read. Che was funny, cynical, mature and sometimes clueless but admitted to all and it was nice for Kim to use Che as a speaker for me the reader too. I think perhaps I couldn’t connect with these characters because they were going through things that I hadn’t experienced myself and having a thorough understanding of their lives was a little difficult to perceive and relate to. I would have liked to see the women form more of a close bond, with travelling sixty miles by foot over five days I would have thought they would form a friendship where they had shared an experience like no other. They all seemed rather separate in their own missions and not particularly interested in each other.
Overall, this was a nice read and Kim Wright’s writing is perfect for those who love reading women’s fiction. I think perhaps if I read this later on in life I would be able to have a greater understanding of the characters and enjoyed it a bit more than I have. This hasn’t put me off reading Kim Wright’s other works that will hopefully be more suited to me.