The Canterbury Trail
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The Canterbury Trail

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  105 ratings  ·  39 reviews

It’s the last ski weekend of the season and a mishmash of snow-enthusiasts is on its way to a remote backwoods cabin. In an odd pilgrimage through the mountains, the townsfolk of Coalton—from the ski bum to the urbanite—embark on a bizarre adventure that walks the line between comedy and tragedy. As the rednecks mount their sleds and the hippies snowshoe through the cedar

Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Brindle and Glass Publishing
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"The Canterbury Trail" had no lead characters and a story that stuttered.

Perhaps it is a bad sign to have a list of the dramatis personæ as this novel does. The reader may have some difficulty remembering names.

The novel quickly loses momentum. The first third of the novel repeats itself. All the characters are introduced in three or four groups, with equal weight. No particular character or characters are ever singled out as being especially worthy. Such a democratic approach, for me, meant I d...more
Daniel Perry
Riffing more perhaps on Boccaccio's Decameron than on the Chaucer work it's titled after, Angie Abdou's second novel presents deeply flawed characters brought together by geography who must learn to share a cabin - and the mountain as a whole - in the British Columbia ski town of Coalton. There is talk of a story competition proper, but the characters' lives leading up to the one weekend at the heart of the novel are themselves stories, and ones that the characters are reluctant to share, let ou...more
Absolutely loved this book. Review to come later once I've digested it a bit more. But wow. Angie is now officially one of my favorite authors.

Okay, here's my review! Originally posted at

Holy smokin’ turtles! The Canterbury Trail is one Hell of a book. I mean, whether you’re into skiing, group dynamics or different ways to consume pot, you’ll probably flip over this book, too.

For me, the idea of smooshing a diverse group of people into a ski cabin for the night...more
Robin Spano
I finished reading The Canterbury Trail last night, and the story is still lingering in my bones. This is one of the most original books I've ever read, and one of the deepest in terms of character development.

I feel the same way I do after reading John Irving - like I've just met some real people inside some fictional walls. Abdou's characters are alive and complex and surprising.

It took me a while to get into the book - I liked it from the start, but wasn't hooked until it was the snowboarder'...more
Stacey Cornelius
What moves someone to make a pilgrimage? What happens when an unlikely group of people find themselves thrown together in extreme circumstances?

What happens when you find yourself in the midst of these people and you dislike every one of them?

This is what I encountered when I picked up a copy of Angie Abdou's The Canterbury Trail.

The disparities are bound to cause friction. Skiers and snowboarders (stoners for good measure), an urban lifestyle reporter/ski groupie, redneck snowmobilers, an ove...more
Yolanda Ridge
I didn't think it was possible to enjoy a book even when you don't really like any of the characters. Excellent writing!
Don Gorman
Abdou is one ballsy, funny writer. Great snapshots of mountain characters. Lyrical, brash and laugh out loud.
Bonnie Ferrante
Canterbury Trail is a brilliant novel about three groups of athletes, with varying levels of experience and skill, determined to enjoy the last heavy snowfall in skiing paradise. Although there are seventeen characters in a 277 page book, each one is uniquely flawed with their own needs and desires. Like in Canterbury Tales, the characters are on their own spiritual, social, and physical journeys.

The homage to Chaucer's classic is not only apparent in the structure and theme of the novel, but a...more
I am sadly not familiar with Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, so I cannot comment on Angie Adbou's adherence or deviations to the original plot. What I can say is that Adbou is a first-class writer who captures the fluidity and exertions of the human body like few others. While her debut novel The Bone Cage was far more centered around a sports theme, Trail shows that Adbou really knows her stuff when it comes to the white powder and those who live to frolic in it. Adbou understands that...more
Philip Newey
The Canterbury Trail, by Angie Abdou, like the work of Chaucer that inspires its title, tells of a pilgrimage by a group of people, in this case up the slopes of a mountain in the Canadian Rockies, to take advantage of a late snow fall at the end of the season. These people set out independently in various groups from the town of Coalton towards a small hut known as Camelot. There are some fourteen characters engaged on this pilgrimage. Add to this The Hermit who lives in the mountains (erecting...more
J. E.  Hewitt
I am mystified by the glowing reviews this book received in the newspapers, because I found it awful. Plus, it's put out by a publisher whose choices I usually really like. This one is too (gratuitously, I feel) full of sex, drugs and bad language. If this is truly a depiction of west coast ski culture, I'm glad I'm not a part of it. I finally gave up and didn't finish it.
Carol Shaw
I recently audiobooked Angie Abdou’s, THE CANTERBURY TRAIL, and I have to say, it made doing housework a lot more fun. Loosely based on Chaucer’s, Canterbury Tales, it's the story of a motley crew of snow-seekers, all mountain-bound for different reasons, all ending up thrown together in a remote wilderness cabin. The story takes place in the fictitious mining town of Coalton (I think emulating the author’s home town of Fernie, BC).

This is a very funny book. Being British, sarcasm is hardwired...more
This is a wild ride, and a somewhat naughtier retell of Chaucer's original, with skiers rather than his pilgrims. A delightful cast of misfits, well-integrated in backstories that are slowly unwrapped. Some of the language is "real", being about a bunch of B.C. ski bums, but don't let that keep you from a great read.
Andrea Nair
Angie Abdou was able to create a story that contained vulgarity and profanity, yet be poetic and brilliant in its delivery. I absolutely loved this book; it's ending incredibly satisfying and one I still envision long after reading this novel.
Full of brilliant literary references through interesting characters of all types. The ending will make you so angry.
Feb 21, 2012 Ginn marked it as to-read
I took a college class taught by this author! Wild.
With a wink to Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales, Angie Abdou assembles her own group of diverse personalities and sends them on a pilgrimage. She mixes up a batch of locals, foreigners, ski-bums, red-necks, hippies and urbanites and takes them trekking up a mountain one beautiful spring weekend for a last taste of powder. They ski, snowshoe and snowmobile their way up to “Camelot” the local ski cabin. Each group is unaware of the others and is somewhat dismayed to find that they must share the s...more
James Edward Mills
When it comes to adventure writing the sharpest literary minds draw on the subject matter they know best. Author Angie Abdou brings to her latest book themes from an ancient English text first made popular in the middle ages.

“I was a medievalist in a past life, which is a weird thing to be,” Angie said at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. “But before I took up fiction writing I taught medieval studies.”
You may remember from courses in English lit the classic travel stories known collect...more
Writer Susan Swan recently mused on Twitter, ""Thinking about the need to show the dark side of fictional characters and how I always want to protect them and show their best side. Wrong."" (1) Did Angie Abdou muse similarly as she lived for some time (the novel first took form as her PhD thesis) with the colourful cast of characters populating her latest novel, The Canterbury Trail? It would seem so, and it would seem she made the right choices in terms of protecting or not protecting them, and...more
I was a bit concerned, when I started this book, that I would not be able to relate to the story and the characters. First of all, while I'm vaguely aware of, I've never read or studied Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Added to that, I have developed over time a slothful aversion to outdoor winter sports, especially skiing (owing to a childhood trauma where I almost drowned in deep snow when I careened face first into it and was unable to get out of my skis, and the general idea that all skiers event...more
Steven Buechler
"The cool air hit Lanny full force in the face on his exit, and his nose and eyes immediately started to water, tears spilling down hi cheeks, over his chin. He rubbed his face hard against his woll sleeve. With no town lights to diminish the view, the sky was a stunning thing to behold. amazing how easily you could forget the sky's power once you were in town, numbed by humand artiface. Here, the denseness of it, its unfathomable enormity, sat heavy above him, draping down to brush hi shoulders...more
Lisa McGonigle
Whan that Aprill with its shoures sote/Brought sweet sweet pow to the Canadian Rockies...

As a literary nerd turned mountain junkie, on every level I revelled in The Canterbury Trail, Angie Abdou’s new novel which reworks Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century Canterbury Trails to follow a group of people on a pilgrimage to a backcountry hut near the Canadian Rockies town of Coalton.

Heading out to the cabin are “some lazy, stoned ski bums, some flakey, tarot-card waving hippies, and some rye-guzzling, o...more
Kristene Perron
Recipe for drama, pathos, comedy, social critique, and introspection – The Canterbury Trail, by Angie Abdou.

This is a very different book and, (at least to me), that’s a good thing. If you’re looking for the traditional novel formula of likeable protagonist, neatly framed conflict, and satisfying conclusion this isn’t the book for you. If , however, you are up for a raunchy Chaucerian romp through the snowy back country of British Columbia, prepare to have your mind blown.

Just as Chaucer did wi...more
The Canterbury Trail takes place on the ski mountain at Coalton, BC, where there is one last snowfall at the end of the ski season. Many of the locals decide to go up the mountain and stay at Camelot, a shack of a ski cabin, for the weekend. Redneck snowmobilers, stoned ski bums, hippies, an urbanite, a real estate developer, and several dogs are among the occupants packed into the cabin.

I had the pleasure of hearing Angie Abdou speak recently at the recent Shuswap Writers' Festival. She spoke a...more
At the mountain’s summit, the sun lit up the billowing cornices, turning them into glazed icing atop a giant cake, making them seem a photographer’s dream rather than a backcountry enthusiast’s nightmare. Even she, who knew better, felt drawn to the gravity-defying pile of snow. She understood Sancho’s urge to run out on the lip of white fluff, suspended on nothing but snow and air, miles above the earth. Out there, she’d be an angel, part of the miracle and closer to the divine.


Loosely inspi...more
Andrea Martineau
What irked me about this novel is that Abdou starts creating these backstories, some overlapping, and you think “Yes, this is interesting, something is going to happen, some kind of conflict, I can feel it.” But then, it doesn’t. These solid, three dimensional characters interact, but not how I would have liked. Heinz, the urban legend/local hermit makes a few brief appearances, and his son briefly talks to him in one scene, but that is it. Heinz opens and closes the story, and should give some...more
Carrie Marcotte
I would rate this book a 3.5 if I could. I liked this novel a lot. The only points I had difficulty with was the extensive use of ski lingo of which I had no experience with. It was really distracting the first half of the book and there would be pages of prose that I would have to read, re-read and re-read agin because I still wouldn't get what was going on. The other point is the numerous characters in this book that I couldn't get straight until halfway through the novel. Once I recovered fro...more
I really enjoyed this. I could tell that it was based on an assignment originally (which it was), and the characters, though seemingly superficial (archetypes), had some depth. The story is told from different points of view, and switches a lot, which I liked, but some people may not.
I enjoyed the ending. I thought something different was going to happen than did, and I enjoyed being wrong (in this case). This is definitely an "adult read" because of the language. I am familiar with the town tha...more
Linda Crosfield
—a raw, sometimes amusing, sometimes not, look at “mountain culture” and the people who like to get out in it in the winter, this novel might make you think twice about skiing out of bounds. And doing lots of dope. Especially at the same time. But probably not, if that’s the sort of thing you tend to do. Note: I really dislike the way Goodreads' rating system works. I gave this book 3 stars, which says I "liked" it, although I sort of didn't. Hmmm. But 2 stars, to me, really sounds like a thumbs...more
Apr 30, 2011 Evelyn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
This book was an interesting lesson in pushing through, even if it is hard to get into the story. Angie Abdou came to St. Albert to launch this book, and listened to her discussing it. I thought I should read it, especially since I enjoyed her other book, Bone Cage. This story involves a number of different people in Coalton (aka - Fernie?!) who head into the back country for a ski/snowmobile adventure. They all end up at the same back country hut, where they need to figure out how to get along....more
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Angie Abdou was born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. She received an Honours B.A. in English from the University of Regina, an M.A. from the University of Western Ontario, and a Ph.D. from the University of Calgary. She now teaches at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, British Columbia. She makes her home in Fernie, British Columbia with her husband and two young children. She has pub...more
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