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The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright

The Canterbury Sisters (2015)

by Kim Wright

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After the death of her mother, Che receives a letter from her longtime boyfriend saying he's leaving her for another woman. In the same batch of mail, Che is notified of her mother's last wishes including the request that Che complete their unfulfilled plans of hiking the Canterbury trail in England. Not wanting to confront the breakup and exhausted from work, Che jumps on a plane to achieve her mother's last request. During the hike Che is taken in by a group of women doing the same hike and they all exchange stories, wisdom, and lessons of healing. A great novel of discovery, healing, and bonding, this was a wonderful read.

Sarah M. / Marathon County Public Library
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  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
The Canterbury Sisters
By Kim Wright

I’ve taught British Literature for years, so this book was written just for me! Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his Canterbury Tales hundreds of years ago about a group of travelers passing time with stories during their journey. In this modern tale, a group of nine women take a hiking tour along the Canterbury Trail and each tells her story along the way.

Che (pronounced Shay) has just lost her mother and her boyfriend, so she decides to take a pilgrimage to Canterbury to fulfill her mother’s request. She leaves everything behind, including her phone, and begins the sixty mile journey to the cathedral. As each woman tells her tale, secrets are revealed, lies untold, and bond are made. The novel included mother/daughter relationships, first love, marriages, forgiveness, self-blame, survival, silence, fairy tales, Greek Mythology, and reality TV. While there were similarities to Chaucer’s original tales, it’s not necessary to have read them; the characters didn’t.

Each voice told a different story in a different perspective, and each tale had something to offer to the reader. Each stop on the journey added a bit a magic to the trip. The stories remind us that it’s not the destination that matters; it’s the path to get there.

Maybe each person is taking “a few steps toward Canterbury, every day, no matter where in the world” he happens to be.

I received an ARC from Netgallery in exchange for an honest review.
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  laura.w.douglas | Mar 9, 2017 |
Listening to the book on audio there were too many characters with not enough distinguishing features to deal with comfortably. Interestingly, the author acknowledges this and the main character uses mnemonics to try to remember who is who. Let’s see, Che 1 is the narrator, her mother is Diana. The tour leader is Tess 2 . Jean 3 and her daughter Becca 4 , and then they begin to blur.

Friends, Claire 5 and Silvia 6 , Claire has gone through 4 husbands, moving up each time, but failing in the relationship end, counting on her perfect looks.

Steffi 7 is the black doctor who is so concerned with food.
Angelique 8 is a reality TV show star.

Valerie, 9 who seems to irritate Che by her life outlook and every remark, remains a semi-mystery until the final chapters. We never do find out what she does, only that she has terminal cancer.

Chapter 10, in the small old church is my favorite.

"I could try meditation of course. It’s the most obvious balm of my generation and it’s always waiting there in the wings with an accusing expression on its face, standing right beside vegetarianism and recycling and supporting local merchants and paying off credit card debt. All the modern puritanical values we’re supposed to embrace, those virtues that make some people better than others."
  2wonderY | Sep 2, 2016 |
This is the story of Che and her journey of self-discovery. Her mother has died and requested that her ashes be scattered in Canterbury. Her request is simple - Che is to follow the route made famous through Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Che's road to healing causes her to re-evaluate her life and her choices. Along the way she learns the value of friendship and honesty to one's self.

I enjoyed the story a great deal. I think author Kim Wright developed well-rounded characters with true depth. I also found that I want to learn more about the Canterbury Tales and about this famous pilgrimage! I received this book from NetGalley and I am so glad to offer a review in exchange. This book did not disappoint me!
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  Dmtcer | May 4, 2016 |
Che Milan had a difficult relationship with her mother while alive and after her death she still seems to steering the course of Che's life. Armed with her ashes and a reminder that she had promised to take her mother to Canterbury, Che decides to do just that. The catalyst is a note from her long term lover ending their relationship.

So with little planning or forethought she books a flight to England and joins a group called Broads Abroad that are undertaking the pilgrimage from London to Canterbury. In true Chaucerian fashion each of the 'pilgrims' has to tell a story along the way, on this occasion with the theme of love. All of the tales are different and give insights into the ladies telling the tale. It certainly gives credence to the saying never judge a book by it's cover as the tales are not always what you would expect from the persona's that the women project.

From the outset Che is on the backfoot, she loses her phone, and bizarrely along the way some of her mother; she has misgivings and mishaps and has no idea what her tale will be. By the end she has an understanding and acceptance of her life that she hadn't anticipated and is prepared to move forward rather than constantly looking back.

On the whole I enjoyed this book, though I did find in the beginning it was a bit slow and introspective as everything was about Che and her views. Once we met the group and they started the pilgrimage, the book began to develop and became part travelogue mixed with individual stories which became more thoughtful, reflective and enlightening. It was an interesting look at developing friendships and group dynamics among a diverse group of women. This would make a good book club read as there are plenty of topics for discussion, female friendships, male/female relationships and mother/daughter relationships for starters.

My main criticism of the book, would be it's cover. I really don't see the connection with the content and it is suggestive of the teashop/cafe genre that is particularly prevalent at the moment which does the book a disservice. While it would probably fall into light women's fiction it does delve into deeper themes and subjects.

I received an ARC via NetGalley in return for an honest review. ( )
  Jilldoyle | Mar 27, 2016 |
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It is better to travel well than to arrive.
To my mother, Doris Mitchell, who made so many journeys possible
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You know that old Chinese curse that goes "May you live in interesting times?" I've always thought the modern-day corollary was "May you have an interesting mother."
I say this all the time, that the church is the enemy of the spirit, which I suppose makes me sound a bit like Diana’s friend David, but here… here in this chapel of dragons and Saturn and wilting chrysanthemums and sleeping cats and good solid neighbors, I feel myself calming. Something in me starts to loosen.
I could try meditation of course. It’s the most obvious balm of my generation and it’s always waiting there in the wings with an accusing expression on its face, standing right beside vegetarianism and recycling and supporting local merchants and paying off credit card debt. All the modern puritanical values we’re supposed to embrace, those virtues that make some people better than others.
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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.… (more)

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