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Pilgrim of Love Paperback – February 23, 2015
The Amazon Book Review
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A thoroughly authentic tale (and) a beautifully arranged meditation on the art of being human. The dialogue is a pleasure to read, always natural and clever, even when concerning the most profound philosophical issues. Davis evokes sympathy for all of the characters, even, or maybe even especially, for the "bad" or naïve ones--the mark of an excellent storyteller. I can hope we hear more from the wandering Jesuit.
- from Dactyl Review
From the Author
This book is a bit of an orphan. I failed to find a home for it with a conventional publisher, but was sufficiently attached to the thing to try my hand at print-on-demand publishing. Those of you who read it are probably going to number among a very, very select few, but I'm glad to say that it has been received well, both by readers of quite staggering erudition and readers I feared would have been repelled by the novel's esoteric subtext. It would seem that somewhere along the line I got something right. Not quite sure what, but if you buy a copy, you may be able to enlighten me.
Top customer reviews
Besides good writing, Charles Davis has several splendid qualities. He has an slyly offbeat attitude to life which he uses to debunk the excesses of religious zeal without ever losing respect for the convictions behind it. He writes sparkling dialogue and thrilling action sequences. And, as the author of several walking guides to Europe, he has an acute sense of place, especially as experienced on foot. There is almost no walking in this latest book, though, only a lot of wading, struggling through treacherous sands, and even swimming, for his setting is the ancient abbey of Mont Saint-Michel off the coast of Normandy, accessible to pilgrims only at low tide. Our young priest arrives with a fragment of parchment inscribed with cabalistic symbols that he refers to as the Lucifer Riddle, determined to devote the abbey's resources and his own intellect to solving it.
The abbey, however, has fallen on hard times, and both the Preceptor and Bursar have their own schemes for restoring the profitable flow of pilgrims. The two men could not be more different. The Preceptor, Etienne, is a religious fanatic who hopes by a combination of asceticism, symbolology, and spiritual alchemy to effect a miracle that will reconcile the forces of darkness and of light. The Bursar, Robert, is a skeptic, more practical in his alchemy, which he uses as a set of conjuring tricks to dispel obscurantism and cant. Fortunately, there is a lot more of Robert than the well-nigh-unintelligible Etienne, and his scenes with our earnest narrator are a masterpiece of comedy, gently dispelling his fervent illusions.
But the young priest's rigidity is also being undermined from another quarter. There is a young woman around the abbey whom he calls Tita. Though skilled in the practical application of the healing arts, she has neither time for philosophy nor patience with male celibates who see women only as virgins or whores. She is a healthy human being, no more, no less. Our narrator's education at her hands is another of the delights of the book. For her sake, and their adventures together, I was prepared to wade through a lot of mystic verbiage that seemed to belong more to THE NAME OF THE ROSE, though I know there are fans for that stuff also. For me, the presiding deity of the novel was not Eco but Rabelais, whose philosophy and myth are seasoned with ribaldry. And I am quite content with that.
Tempted by sigils and signs, drawn toward the alchemy of interpretation, and set on a quest, perhaps, to find the Holy Grail of Arthurian legend, this young monk’s thirst for knowledge lures him quickly into mystery and intrigue, drawing the reader happily behind him. Enjoyably complex language is used simply and clearly, conveying a convincing feel for time and place. Mysterious emblems, riddles, and interpretations abound, with alchemy born, perhaps, in the art of metaphor. But what happens when metaphors become real?
The story is set on the island of Mont St Michel. With “no one way, no right path” through the quicksands surrounding it, or through the valleys of gods and life, the protagonist seeks a way through alchemical confusion and human emotion, until his deepest mystery might be “how very pagan is the nature of nature.”
This is a place where “All stories are false.” Gnosticism meets science, and faith meets love. Meanwhile true alchemy is a magic born of fiction and words. Pilgrim of Love is a wonderful story, beautifully told, and a mystery that keeps the pages turning, with cleverly spaced hints and clues, fascinating symbols, genuine romance, and a thoroughly satisfying conclusion.
Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review.