Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pilgrim Footprints on the Sands of Time (Book Review)

Publication Information: LightEye Editions, paperback, December 2013  
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 12th century Europe
Plot:  William Beaumont, a fulling miller’s son, is an ambitious but unsophisticated young man, whose dream is to study medicine at a university.  When he catches sight of Alicia Bearham, niece to the nobility, he falls madly in love.  Surprisingly, Alicia returns his feelings, and even more improbably, her family – far from warning him to keep his distance – invites him to accompany them on a pilgrimage to Spain.  Her family is unfortunately connected to one of the men who murdered Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, and must expiate its guilt (although Henry II, who instigated the crime – “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” - escapes significant punishment) in order to regain its reputation.  William and his companions experience many adventures and dangers in France and Spain before returning to England.

Audience: Fans of Judith Merkle Riley; armchair travelers; those planning or dreaming of a pilgrimage.

My Impressions:  I was attracted to this book by the cover, which has a Pre-Raphaelite look despite its 12th century setting, and the author’s obvious passion for pilgrimages.  I was reminded of a book called Mount Joy by Daisy Newman I read many years ago about a young woman who leaves a college like Radcliffe to go on pilgrimage (until I looked it up on Goodreads moments ago I didn’t recall she also traveled to Santiago de Compostela).  In fact, I was surprised to read that pilgrims still travel to Santiago de Compostela in huge numbers (250,000 in 2010); I had thought there were more obvious destinations such as Rome and the Holy Land.

I did feel strongly the manuscript needed an editor.  The anachronistic language was very jarring and could easily have been avoided (“Hey, Will, are you alright?” “Still fancy her, do you?” “Is this why you’ve been so insecure about us?” and so on.  The concept of a medical “internship” may have existed in the 12th century but not by that name, and at one point I swear the characters went to lunch!).  William was more interesting when passionate about healing than when infatuated with Alicia.  Their rhapsodic utterances to each other were repetitive.

However, Sylvia Nilsen is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about her subject.  She has been the editor for a travel guide publisher and her company, amaWalkersCamino, takes small groups of pilgrims on the Camino Frances pilgrimage route in Spain.  She also walked from Paris to Spain to do the research for this book.  For more information on Sylvia Nilsen, please visit her website.  You can also find her on Facebook.
Source:  I received this book from the HistoricalFiction Virtual Book Tours and urge you to stop by the tour to learn more about the author and see what other bloggers had to say about this book.  

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, February 24
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, February 25
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, February 27
Spotlight & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, February 28
Guest Post at A Bookish Libraria

Monday, March 3
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, March 4
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, March 5
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Thursday, March 6
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Friday, March 7
Review at Reading the Ages

Monday, March 10
Review & Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, March 11
Review at The Most Happy Reader

Wednesday, March 12
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Thursday, March 13
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, March 14
Interview at Layered Pages

Monday, March 17
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, March 18
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, March 19
Guest Post at Kelsey’s Book Corner

Thursday, March 20
Review at From L.A. to LA

Friday, March 21
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

JaneGS said...

So much to say... sounds like the premise is better than the execution on this one. I do get annoyed by anachronisms in historical fiction, especially when they seem indicative of sloppiness.

However, my interest was caught by the reference to the Camino de Santiago. I found out about the swelling number of pilgrims a couple of years ago, and am hoping to walk part of the Camino myself sometime within the next year or so. I've been reading some fiction and non-fiction about it, which is a fun way to prep, in addition to walk a LOT.

Actually the book that interests me more in your post is Mount Joy.