The Canterbury Sisters is a novel about women undertaking a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral in England. Che de Milan is the main character. She's just lost her mother, with whom she shared a dysfunctional relationship; her boyfriend has left her for another "She's the One" woman, and her mother's ashes have arrived with a note from her mother requesting she be taken on a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral, since she didn't get to do it while she was alive. Che had promised her mother they would do this, but forgot while living her busy life. It's a chance for Che to escape her ex-boyfriend's incessant phone calls and her misery in finding herself completely alone and at a loss as to what to do next.
Through circumstances, Che finds herself joining a group of women who are on a paid guided pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral. These ladies are a varied group of women from the United States who all have a reason to be on this journey. Their guide on the sixty-mile walk from London requests that each woman tell a story on the journey--echoing Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The theme is love. The stories are surprising, and what take this novel from what would appear at first to be a chick lit story to a really great exploration of life, what love is and how it drives us, and where we are in our journey through life. Are we happy? Do we regret anything? Can we change? Che's journey is one of guilt and grief. Her relationship with her free-spirit mother was one of angst and confusion. Che's life is the complete opposite of how she grew up, and now she's got to look at her life and decide what to do next.
Each of the women in this story have remarkable stories to tell, and each story is completely different. I don't want to spoil any of this book, so I'll leave it for you to discover if your life echoes in these tales of love, loss, and forgiveness.
This is a great book to read in the summer. For me it conjured up all sorts of longing to undertake a walking pilgrimage! It's on my bucket list. This novel is a good contemporary look at the choices women make and how we can not only live with them, but learn from them. Don't let the cover fool you; this novel is not a fluffy good time vacation story but a satisfying novel you'll enjoy.
Rating: 8/10 for a refreshing look at contemporary women and the choices we make for love. The idea of a walking pilgrimage as the framework for a story is what makes this novel work.
Available in paperback and e-book.