Virginia Barton

On the pilgrim’s road with an observer

Catholic Herald, 12 July 1991

 

Review: On Pilgrimage: A Time to Seek by Jini Fiennes (Sinclair-Stevenson, £16.95)

 

“Readable” is a word one tries to avoid in a review, but it fits On Pilgrimage so exactly that I cannot resist using it.

oporgcvr (603x932)After an operation for cancer, 28 years of family life, and with seven children raised, the author sets out on a pilgrimage, by herself. From Portsmouth to Santiago de Compostela, by way of Lisieux, Taize and Lourdes (to name but three of many stopovers), the author makes a journey that is as much inward and spiritual as outward and practical.

Jini Fiennes has already published several novels. She writes with an enviable ease, swiftly drawing the reader alongside as the silent companion of her journey. Together, reader and author discover the Orthodox liturgy at Bussy-en-Othe, for example, or the welcome that emanates from Br. Roger and his community.

The treasures of art, the more way-out aspects of Catholic shrines, the eccentricities of fellow pilgrims, many a loveable character, and amusing anecdote are all described with a warm liveliness, humour and genuine tolerance. The many references to writers, philosophers and spiritual thinkers weave a fine thread. The author delicately fingers it, like some modern Ariadne all the way to the happy ending.

I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying the trail of this warm and wise woman.

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