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3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  47 reviews

A New Masterpiece from National Book Award and PEN-Faulkner Award Finalist Hugh Nissenson

The Pilgrim (Sourcebooks Landmark; November 8) is a gripping account of a love-torn Puritan's spiritual struggle for redemption, the finding of an unforgettable romantic love, and his never ending battle to overcome the burden of sin.

Charles Wentworth, a heart broken Puritan, comes

ebook, 368 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Sourcebooks, Incorporated (first published January 1st 2011)
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Meg - A Bookish Affair
It took me a little while to get into this book but after the slow start, I really liked it. This is the first fiction book that I can remember reading that covers the Puritans before they leave England for religious freedom in the New World. I guess what took me a little bit to get into the book is that Charles Wentworth, Puritan and the narrator, is sort of a bland character. Also, I didn't really like reading about Wentworth's life in England as not too much goes on besides the loss of his be...more
This is one of those rare books I didn't research in any way...just saw in the library, thought, "I'm into pilgrims," and started reading.

And I kept reading. It was written (nearly) in the style of 17th century prose, and the plot wasn't at all cinematic, but I kept reading. I liked it. It was a great insight into how miserable and under-prepared and scared the pilgrims were. I don't know. I just liked it. It was a good old fashion good book.
Erik Simon
Two weeks ago, while strolling the aisles of my local Barnes and Noble, I happened upon this book. I'd never heard of Nissenson before, but something compelled me to get it--perhpas Cynthia Ozick's praise for his recent novel, perhaps that he'd been nominated for an NBA back in the eighties. No matter. I could not put it down. How this old Jewish author became, so convincingly, a 17th Century Puritan, is something of a marvel. And the story is what the title says it is--that of a Pilgrim, one of...more
Kate Merriman
This author writes in such a deceptively plain style that I found myself surprised by how I could not put this book down!

I came to this book because I'd done a bunch of family tree searching on ancestry.com and was much surprised to be connected by both my father and mother's side to some of the earliest Brits to immigrate to the US - not on the Mayflower but on the next few boats coming over. I'd always thought our family mostly came over to California during the gold rush and never found New E...more
Fictional story about Charles Wentworth, an Englishman who becomes one of the first wave of settlers to America in the 1620s (like a year or so after the Mayflowerites arrived). I heard him on NPR I think and was super excited to read this because I'd researched some of this stuff for a script, but it was only okay.

Fun to read a modern fictional novel written as though in the language/POV from someone from the 1620s. Interesting to experience things like the struggles with religion that they us...more
I have to think upon this book. Perhaps the Pilgrim, Charles Wentworth would have spake it thus. In this book, Nissenson explores 17th century English Puritanism as well as the general culture of England. Half way through the book, which is written in first person using early 17th century English, Charles travels to Plymouth Plantation two years after the initial arrival of the Pilgrims. There he continues to struggle for salvation at the same time the colony is starving, fighting the Natives, a...more
Nissenson died recently so I picked up his last novel. An interesting book with a promising start but sort of hollow. The historical details were great and the plain, direct prose was startling at times, but if there was something going on behind the surface of this book, I missed it.

I've read a lot of mediocre books. Have to stop doing that.
I vacillated between 2 & 3 stars on this one, but decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. I admire writers who can evoke the style of an earlier period but still speak to contemporary readers. Here, the story is framed as an introspective account of the spiritual and material struggles of a 16th-century Separatist. It divides almost exactly equally between the Old World, where our narrator drops out of divinity school when his father dies, and the New World, where he seeks a fresh start...more
Carolyn Lind
This book is very informative about the lives of the Puritans both in England and in the New World. Strict religious beliefs give birth to heart rending moral dilemmas and the anguish of doubt.

The first half of the book is set in England giving the reader a clear idea of Puritan life before coming to the New World. The second half shows how these beliefs, packed with care in each Puritan's suitcase, color their lives in the New World.
I've never rated a book one star. That speaks for itself. I hate to not finish a book so I kept reading. The writing was so simple, it could be a children's novel. I never really cared what happened to the characters. I wish I could find something nice to say about this book.
Bill P.
A fictional complement to Philbricks excellent account of the pilgrim's progress in the new world (Mayflower). The Pilgrim imagines the mindset of this homogenous, industrious, self-rightous group driven by their geniune beliefs and in the case of our hero, personal grief and lack of direction, to cross an ocean for a life of desperation in search of God's approval. The novel isnt all dour introspection however, the narrative moves along at a nice clip, supporting characters spice up the story,...more
I put the book down several times, not wanting to finish, but something compelled me to finish to see what people were liking about the book. I had read several positive reviews. I was disappointed that so much (half) of the book was based in England. I would have preferred a short preface of what happened there and gotten right on to the "beginning" when he set sail to America. With so much of the book taking place in England, I felt deceived by the title of the book. Overall the last half of t...more
Amy Cook
Very plainly written, at times edging on dull, this is still an interesting story and very honestly, simply told. The style of writing seemed appropriate to the period it covered, as did the way in which the author described both events and emotions in a matter-of-fact way. I especially appreciated getting a sense of what religion meant to an individual then, and how fearful people were of their own fates and of whether they were in the right or in the wrong. Despite not loving the book, I had t...more
Diane S.
3.5 Fascinating look at the Puritans form the viewpoint of Charles Wentworth, a young man whose mother dies giving birth to him, and whose father is a minister. Feeling he has not found salvation nor acceptance from God he continues to question all he does. Well written exploration of what it means to live in a Puritan society, first in England and than in Plymouth, Mass. The language is as true to form of that time period as it can be without being overbearing.
miraculous page-turner about a puritan's life 1st in london in the early 1600s, 2nd in the plymouth colony. framed as a religious confession and told in the diction of the times, this vividly and graphically portrays the brutal, harsh realities of life and death and disease in the olden days, both across the pond and stateside, within the context of christian man's spiritual struggle. highly recommended for those not easily squeamed, or willing to be squeamed.
This book should come with a warning re: the writing style in it. I literally had to change the way I read this book because the author was so authentic to the language of the time, I found there were times I had to go back and reread portions to ensure I was following the storyline correctly. Thus, this book was an INCREDIBLY slow read for me. On that note, this is probably the most unusual(in a good way) book I have read in a very, very long time.
Suze65 Laddon
His writing style, at least for this particular novel, did not really appeal to me. In the back of my mind I kept wondering: "Is this the guy that penned 'The Tree of Life' that was made into a fairly incomprehensible film that essentially drove me up the wall? Hmm. I shall conduct more research about that. I will say, his other titles (aside from 'Tree of Life', if it is the title Hollywood turned into a flick) sound quite intriguing.
Graham Crawford
This is a solid simple story, and well researched. It really felt like I was getting into the head of "the Pilgrim". Unfortunately - me being an atheist, I couldn't really enjoy getting inside a Puritan's mind. I don't think this book has a religious bias, as there are many examples of horrors caused by faith in this work, but it does describe an extremely narrow worldview that I could take little delight from.
The reader is transformed back to the earliest days of the settling of Amer. by the sworn statement of one Charles Wentworth, who came to Plymouth soon after the Mayflower. The powerful influence of religion & the church is portrayed by Charles as he struggles with his humanity & his faith, at the same time revelling in the death of the "savages" that they must conquer. This is a great work of historical fiction.
impressive writing style, seemingly authentic and therefore not an easy read. It brings to light the roots of the very conservative religious right in this country, where separation from state and church is unthinkable. That was the mindset then and is the mind-set now amongst certain groups in modern society. Very interesting and not an "enjoyable" read for liberal-minded individuals.
The book had a promising start, but I got a bit tired of it by the end. It was a different perspective of the pilgrims than you usually get (or I got in 6th grade history, which was about the last time I learned anything about them). It certainly put the Tea Party and their like into context as part of the United States' long history of religious extremists.
I liked all the historical detail, but the story was just meh. It has inspired me to go back and brush up on Calvinism and determinism. I always assumed the saved/elect was an American Southern thing, but this book clearly illustrates it goes way back to Protestanism. I wonder how the evangelicals feel about that?
Brittneybook Book
This was a great book. The writing style is wonderful. I was taken in by the authenticity of the time period and the main character's tortuous and honest life that he lived. If you liked Philbrick's Mayflower, you will love this book, in a more narrative, journal-style form.
Carol Kufeldt
I enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book. The last third I mostly skimmed through because it didn't really hold my attention and I didn't care anymore- plus, it was really brutal and I thought the killing was unjustified. Oops- spoiler alert. I don't know that I'll recommend it to anyone.
Pamela Bilderbeck
Nicely written in the language of the period but not completely overdone with vernacular. Very well researched and well written period piece, great story into the mind, philosophy, beliefs, and emotions of a man from that era, not tarnished with the author's 21st century views.
Grace P.
I felt like I was back in time in the creepy Puritan 1600s. It felt like reading a diary. Very good book but toward the end I was getting tired of the dour, puritanical main character who could think of nothing else but whether he was going to be saved or damned.
May 24, 2013 Hawk marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Not for me. Grew bored quickly waiting for something to happen but read all of Part One before giving up. Did not care for the style in which it was written. Certainly did not care about the chief protagonist's incessant whine about his spiritual void.
100 pages in and filled with religious persecution and angst, death penalties for minor infractions, a child dies from a whipping from a teacher, and the main character has not even left England for the colonies to become The Pilgrim. Not for me.
It was intriguing to follow the different religious philosophies of the Church of England and the Separatists; but I didn't develop empathy or compassion for the main character. I guess reading this was, for me, more of an intellectual exercise.
This book conveys the harsh living conditions and the brutality of the law during the late 17th century in England and in the new world colonies. One needs a strong stomach when reading certain passages. Not a book for light entertainment.
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