Today I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for Joy Margetts’ new book ‘The Pilgrim‘ to be published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022. ‘The Pilgrim‘ is historical fiction, set in medieval Wales.
Driven by ambition and family expectation, young Henry de Brampton is determined to make his mark. Destined for a prestigious career in the Church, he readily embraces the chance to experience the world before taking his vows. But fuelled by selfish desire, he recklessly betrays those he loves, with devastating consequences.
Overwhelmed with guilt, he seeks redemption among the Cistercians of Abbey Cwmhir and finds a new identity as Brother Hywel. Yet a further thoughtless betrayal will prove he cannot escape himself, and he is forced on pilgrimage to save his vocation.
A reluctant pilgrim, can the unlikely company help him discover what it truly means to be great in God’s eyes, and will Hywel ever be willing not just to receive forgiveness but also to forgive himself?
What a beautiful book this is. From the very beginning, right through to the end, Joy Margetts’ story held me captivated. I felt I was in medieval Wales, and tried to delay reaching the end, as it became almost like a retreat-in-daily-life, just reading this book! As it relates the story of Hal, a nobleman, later to become the monk Hywel, it becomes almost meditative for the reader.
Unable to shake off overwhelming guilt for his lustful behaviour, his responsibility for more than one death, including that of the beautiful girl he loves, and his betrayal of a good friend, Hal is first despatched by his father to a monastery; but then he again transgresses, through his relationship with two fellow monks in the community. Finally, he is sent off on a journey by horseback, which is not only physical and geographical, but also an inner journey moving him towards God’s heart and towards self-knowledge: a pilgrimage to Bardsey Island.
I fell into the rhythm of their pilgrimage alongside the members of the group: Madoc, the seemingly gruff leader; the two brothers Tomas and Rhys; the crippled widow Myfanwy; the arrogant nobleman Matthew, who tries to prove himself more spiritual than the rest; and of course Hywel himself. All seek healing of body and spirit as they head towards the Island of the Saints.
Along the way we experience the wide spectrum that is human nature, in the varying reactions of those whom the pilgrims meet at the abbeys where they might find food and rest. As this is the 12th century, we see some of the abbeys in the process of being built; and we feel, with the pilgrims, the disappointment of being treated unkindly and callously by those who should be full of the love of God. Then, our hearts are warmed by those who give hospitality and are overflowing with kindness, like Gracia.
We learn Madoc’s heart-breaking story, and along with Hywel, we come to realise that this story is for us, in our own flawed lives, with our own wrong choices and bad decisions, our regrets and failings: we too must make this inner pilgrimage if we are to find true forgiveness and peace.
A highly recommended book, as is its prequel, The Healing, which I have also read and loved.
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