The Canterbury Sisters

The Canterbury Sisters

Book - 2015
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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.
Publisher: New York, NY : Gallery Books, 2015
Edition: First Gallery Books trade paperback editon
ISBN: 9781501100765
Branch Call Number: FICTION WRIGHT
Characteristics: 316 p. ; 21 cm


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Jan 19, 2019

Women's Literature isn't my usual genre, so I suspect the things about this book that kept me at arm's length might not be a road block for others. Overall, it was an okay book. The protagonist, Che, is difficult to like- until the final few chapters she's basically a hugely judgmental bitch. She gives no one any compassion and she's quite self-important. But of course she's meant to be grating, so she can have an arc by the end when she blossoms into a slightly more decent and patient person. She also goes from being overly scheduled and scared of silence to being a bit more comfortable in her own skin. That's a noble character arc, it was just difficult for me to want to follow along...until about midway through.

Of course, the clever part of this is that each of the characters tells a story, mirroring the setup of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, where each character also tells a story. In this, the stories are largely about the women themselves. I was delighted that Eros and Psyche, and Gawain and the Loathsome Lady were the two fictional tales told by characters- two myths/legends that I adore. And the other characters' stories, more than their actions and reactions in the narrative, were engaging in that "let me figure out this character" kind of way.

Although I would never be a pilgrim myself, I have looked at visiting Canterbury while we're in the UK. The cathedral seems to be focal point of the town, and so it leant an appropriate somber air at the end of the book, when Che arrives.

I listened to the audiobook, and the narration was solid (even though the accents were a bit off) with good audio production quality. Overall, I recommend it for fans of Women's Literature, especially the kind that deals with adult mother/daughter relationships, grief, and getting over a fear of connection (and vulnerability).

Oct 21, 2015

Right from the start, there was something that irritated me about this story. I found the tone rather glib and superficial, and although I did finish the book, I never did come to like or sympathize with the main character, who I thought came across as very self-centred, judgmental and narcissistic. I did like the concept of the story - the pilgrimmage, although it wasn't particularly well fleshed out, and I never got any sense of the landscape the "pilgrims" were passing through. I did not find the characters to be well developed, especially the main character, who seemed to carrying on an extended pity party, even though she managed to always have everything be about her, while the other characters not only faded into the background, but were deemed to be too flawed for our main gal. Perhaps if the story had more depth and been more believable I would have found it more palatable.

In short, it is an ok read as long as you keep your expectations low.

Aug 20, 2015

outstanding chronicling of a modern pilgrimage - just the right dose of Chaucer background and character background. Well done!


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