The Pilgrim is another beautiful book set in the 13th century. The Pilgrim tells the story of Hywel, the wonderful monk from Joy’s debut novel, The Healing. The Pilgrim is actually the prequel and I am so glad to have Hywel’s story. It was hard to have a favourite character in The Healing, but Hywel was definitely one of them.
The Pilgrim starts off outside the monasteries when Hywel is a young man, destined for the Church. Hywel, or Hal as he is affectionately known by his brother, is a rather wild young man and he makes some very bad decisions with long-reaching consequences.
Joy Margetts, the author, has done a wonderful job in describing Hal’s life and the way he sank deeper and deeper, all in such a reasonable way. One step led to another, but it could have happened to anyone. I knew Hywel from The Healing, but it was hard to imagine this young man becoming the wise Brother Hywel!
Eventually, young monk Hywel is sent on a pilgrimage. He isn’t keen to go, but isn’t left with any choice. The pilgrimage was one of so many layers, you could just imagine yourself going along. Joy has transferred the pilgrimage to the book, to the here and now, so you are taken along with the small band of travellers.
Hywel has a long journey to make and Joy takes you with him. I loved it, although some of the questions Hywel is asked hit me hard, but his answers or the help given him was such a blessing. The description of the various monastic houses was interesting and challenging as well. They were all set up for serving God, but which ones were truly living out their service?
Hywel has a long road toward forgiveness, being forgiven and forgiving himself. Throughout the book, Joy brings the Gospel in so much beauty and wisdom, that it’s hard not to get stuck on each chapter as you want to simply re-read or dwell on the words, feeling God’s mercy and grace touching your heart.
Just as with The Healing, I felt so sad when I got to the last page! Again, it is the kind of book you will come back to, maybe as a devotional or just to read the wisdom in the pages. The chapters are divided up with carefully chosen Bible passages, giving you time to reflect. The Pilgrim is a blessing to read, not simply a novel to enjoy.
Now we simply have to wait for the stories of the other wonderful characters. Rhodri perhaps, or Julian. Or Mother Gracia?
I received a review copy from Joy but was under no pressure or obligation to write a favourable review.