Okay, I thought. Here’s what I don’t have. I don’t have a mother, or a lover, or a phone, or any fucking clue of why I’m here, where I’m going next, or what any of this means.
Kim Wright, The Canterbury Sisters
When Che receives her mother’s ashes, there is a note attached, a last request: take the ashes to Canterbury, “It is never too late for healing.” Che would have ignored the note, except that her boyfriend had also sent a note. He was breaking up with her and would call her to work out the details. So, to fulfill her mother’s last wishes and to avoid the inevitable conversation with her now ex-boyfriend, Che books a flight to London. When her private tour guide becomes ill, Che finds herself on a pilgrimage (run by Broads Abroad) going from London to Canterbury with eight other women. In the tradition of The Canterbury Tales, each woman is to tell a “love story,” whether true or fictional. Through the pilgrimage and the stories, Che finds the healing that her mother wanted for her.
The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright gave me the same pleasure that I associate with the sight of a well-planned, well-maintained garden. There was the pleasure of the description of the walk to Canterbury, based upon Wright’s own experiences. There was the pleasure of the skillful writing.The description of Che’s mother’s ashes in the zip lock bag and then in the fish and chips bag is wonderful, both amusing and touching. The women’s stories and the narration of their experiences on the trip gave me insight into the lives of women and their complexities. Che is a bit snooty and at the same time vulnerable, making her an appealing character. My only major criticism is that part of the ending seemed contrived.
I rarely read non-genre –science fiction, mystery, fantasy– fiction. I’m not sure it is in my true nature. But, this novel does make me want to read more novels by Kim Wright.