Knowing Anna follows her (Anna's) family and friends as they venture along the Pilgrims Way, her final request before she died from cancer. Each pilgrim is battling their secrets, heartaches and dramas as well as grieving for their wife, mum, friend, or daughter.
Then a stranger joins the group. Who is he? And what was the catastrophe that drove Anna from home a decade earlier?
Over the course of nine days, the pilgrims share their memories of Anna, and gradually the layers of her life are peeled back to uncover secrets that no one ever suspected. Can those who loved her come to terms with all that has happened in the past?
For the most part, the characters are relatable and likeable - I really felt for Anna's parents as they battled with their grief and the ailments of getting old whilst also looking out for their son in law and grandchildren. The relationship between Anna's mum (grandma) and son, Sam is really touching. However, Beth was written as a "typical teenager" complete with a vocabulary I've never heard used by any of the young people I've worked with- this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, there are plenty of teenagers who can talk without saying "whatever, like mega borezone" or similar. However, I was really rooting for her to come out on top by the end of the novel.
As well as a beautiful tour of the walk from Guildford to Canterbury; the story is full of twists, turns and revelations right up until the end. I cried for the tragedy that Anna suffered ten years ago as well as for her family suffering in the present and was gripped by the reveal of the biggest secret of them all.
The "stranger" who joins the pilgrimage is a bit built up in the blurb. Whilst not my favourite character he certainly brings perspective to the whole group and offers the lesson of "never judge a book by its cover".
Full of grace and wisdom I would definitely recommend this book. It's an emotional read but well worth a couple of tears. So curl up next weekend with a cup of tea and a couple of tissues and enjoy.
June 23rd, 2016 - Posted & Written by Laura White