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Matthew Kneale



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Atlantic Books
10 August 2020
Fiction & Literature; Historical adventure; Historical fiction
The year 1289. A rich farmer fears he'll go to hell for cheating his neighbours. His wife wants pilgrim badges to sew into her hat and show off at church. A poor, ragged villager is convinced his beloved cat is suffering in the fires of purgatory and must be rescued. A mother is convinced her son's dangerous illness is punishment for her own adultery and seeks forgiveness so he may be cured. A landlord is in trouble with the church after he punched an abbot on the nose. A sexually driven noblewoman seeks a divorce so she can marry her new young beau.

These are among a group of pilgrims that sets off on the tough and dangerous journey from England to Rome, where they hope all their troubles will be answered. Some in the party who have their own, secret reasons for going.

Matthew Kneale is the author of English Passengers and Rome: A History in Seven Sackings. His new novel, Pilgrims, is a riveting, sweeping narrative that shows medieval society in a new light, as a highly rule-bound, legalistic world, though religious fervour and the threat of violence are never far below the surface. Told by multiple narrators, Pilgrims has much to say about Englishness, then and now.
By:   Matthew Kneale
Imprint:   Atlantic Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 33mm
Weight:   573g
ISBN:   9781786492371
ISBN 10:   1786492377
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   10 August 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Matthew Kneale was born in London in 1960, the son and grandson of writers. He studied Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford. Fascinated with diverse cultures, he travelled to more than eighty countries and tried his hand at learning a number of foreign languages, including Japanese, Ethiopian Amharic, Romanian and Albanian. He has written five novels, including English Passengers, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. His latest was a non-fiction history book, An Atheist's History of Belief. For the last fifteen years he has lived in Rome with his wife and two children.

Reviews for Pilgrims

Uproariously funny scenes... For all of the hilarity of the pilgrims' capers, Kneale does a good job of showing us the darker side of British history - and reminding us that in silence lies complicity. * Financial Times * A warm-hearted tale, full of intriguing historical detail, plot twists and comedic light touches. * Robbie Millen, The Times * A source of constant delight ... A wonderful novel * Tom Holland, Front Row, BBC Radio 4 * For all of the hilarity of the pilgrims' capers, Kneale does a good job of showing us the darker side of British history - and reminding us that in silence lies complicity. * Financial Times * Rich and absorbing * The Times * Not many novelists can evoke a period as far back as 700 years but we're there for every step of this absorbing journey. * The New European * Kneale's novel takes readers back to an age of religious superstition with such assurance that every word rings true. * Mail on Sunday * Kneale illuminates and entertains with a quietly skilful touch. * The Arts Desk, Boyd Tonkin * Kneale's medieval world is animated with a refreshing lightness of touch. * Sunday Telegraph * Diverting [...] an enjoyable exploration of ancient English beliefs and loyalties that still have disquieting echoes today. * Evening Standard, Nick Curtis * There's a sly, humane comedy in the way Kneale ventriloquises both the stranglehold of religious law on daily life and thought and the endlessly inventive individual efforts to exploit and interpret it. * Guardian, Justine Jordan * Matthew Kneale's new novel could hardly be a more welcome getaway... Humane outrage pulses through this novel along with comic ebullience. * Sunday Times * An enthralling and wonderfully vivid novel from a master storyteller. * Joseph O'Connor *

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