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The Crossway

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A BBC Radio 4 'Book of the Week' in 2018.

In 2013 Guy Stagg made a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Jerusalem. Though a non-believer, he began the journey after suffering several years of mental illness, hoping the ritual would heal him. For ten months he hiked alone on ancient paths, crossing ten countries and more than 5,500 kilometres. The Crossway is an account of this
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 13th 2019 by Picador (first published June 14th 2018)
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2013 dawns and Guy Stagg has decided that he wants his life to take a different direction. Having suffered for years from mental illness culminating in a nervous breakdown, he is desperate for a way toget better. He had decided to walk the 3,400 miles from Canterbury to Jerusalem as a pilgrim and an unbeliever, hoping that the ritual of walking will heal his mind. He would walk at the pace that suited him, following the ancient pilgrimage paths and relying on the generosity of strangers to give ...more
(3.75) Especially in the early pages, I was reminded of the writing of a young Patrick Leigh Fermor (as in A Time of Gifts). After a time of alcohol abuse and mental breakdown, Stagg set out on a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Jerusalem, two of the most significant sites of Western Christianity. And yet this was a secular undertaking by someone who didn’t believe, or perhaps only wanted to believe. In any case, he found the ritual movement useful, as if he was on a journey back to himself. ...more
From BBC radio 4 - Book of the week:
An epic journey, but also an intimate one. After several years of mental illness, Guy Stagg set off one morning, from London, to walk to Canterbury. Ill-prepared and not entirely clear why he was doing this, he nevertheless got there. Exhausted, he lay beneath the Cathedral walls and then decided to continue. A few months later, on New Year's Day, 2013, he set out from Canterbury to follow the paths of the medieval pilgrims to Jerusalem.

Ten months and 5,500
4th book for 2019.

In 2013, Guy Stagg, an atheist suffering from a deep spiritual crisis, decided to walk the pilgrim trails from Canterbury to Jerusalem.

The book has three intertwined stories: the story of the walk itself, the places Stagg visits, the people he meets; a historical discussion of to pilgrims, saints, and religious movements triggered by the places he stays; and finally the story of Stagg's own deep crisis and his hopes for a cure by walking.

While some of the historical
Anneliese Tirry
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Na een zware depressie besluit de auteur van dit boek van Canterbury naar Jerusalem te stappen in de hoop zo genezing te vinden voor zijn voortdurende kwelling. De hele weg krijgt hij hulp, eten en onderdak van gewone mensen, in kloosters en abdijen, ...
Dit is een boek dat me zeer geraakt heeft. Niet alleen door de lange tocht die deze nog erg jonge man alleen onderneemt, maar ook door zijn eerlijkheid. Af en toe opent hij een venster naar zijn verleden en dat is hard en niet fraai, het
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a brave book!The author shares a good deal of himself with us and we accompany his soul to Jerusalem,via Rome and Mount Athos,in search of personal healing.His journey isn't over but I detect a glimmer of hope in his encounters with the lives of ordinary believers and the monks of Athos.I will admit my first spiritual ponderings were also from the Orthodox tradition-the writings of Metropolitan Anthony in his book about prayer,then popular with students.I became a Roman Catholic but,like ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Crossway is a big achievement, featuring an epic journey and some blistering honesty about the author's mental health, but the final section left a bad taste in my mouth, I'm sorry to say.

The book tells the story of Guy Stagg's 10-month journey on foot from Canterbury to Jerusalem, following old pilgrim ways - he's not a believer, but he hopes the journey might somehow help to resolve/contain/move on from painful and traumatic experiences with his health & with addiction.

Through the
Alexander Van Leadam
The book has charm as a journal of an admittedly impressive yet foolhardy journey. The author manages to convey the combination of actions and thoughts that describes his experiences in a direct, engaging manner. Unfortunately, the journey is also a search for some higher truths and when the book tries to reach them, it involves too many platitudes.
Paul Taylor
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not great literature but an account of an extraordinary journey. Stagg occassionally over taxes similies but his candour throughout is engaging.
June Louise
When I first picked up this book and noticed the author’s surname, my first thought was Dickens’ Staggs Gardens in Dombey and Son – an area which was initially a physical wreck until an event (in Dickens’ case the advent of the railway) occurred which invigorated the area and gave it a sense of re-birth. Appropriately enough, this is the crux of The Crossway.

The accolades listed on the back cover of this book, together with the sticker on the front {which states that it has been read on Radio 4)
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Crossway is the story of a pilgrimage made on foot by the author in 2013. Prompted in part by a serious mental breakdown, Guy Stagg travelled from Canterbury to Jerusalem by way of traditional pilgrim routes, seeking shelter and sustenance from religious houses and individuals along the way. Setting off on New Year's Day, his journey took most of the year and took in the murky winter weather of Northern Europe, snowy Alpine passes, and the heat and dust of Turkey and the Holy Land. He ...more
Ruth Dipple
This book describes a sort of Dantean journey across Europe - destination Jerusalem - in which the author makes, or hopes to make, a journey of self-discovery. Consequently much of the interest hangs on whether the reader feels interested in the author and his problems. That could be a drawback for some readers.
I may be cynical but it seemed to me that some conversations reported in great detail may have been fictionalised to fit in with the unfolding scheme of the book, and I thought the same
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has been shortlisted for several literary awards, among them the Ondaatje prize awarded to a work most evocative of a “sense of place”.

Rathbones Folio Prize 2019 Shortlist

Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prize.

The author tells the true story of his walk from London to Jerusalem and his experiences along the way. Though well-researched concerning other religious travelers on foot through the years, it
Christina’s Word
A beautifully written account of a young man’s journey from Canterbury to Jerusalem walked within a year. Guy Stagg begins on New Year’s Day, crosses the Alps in midwinter, spends Easter in Rome, joins mass protests in Istanbul, survives a terrorist attack in Lebanon. Travelling without support he has to rely on the generosity of strangers. He hikes alone, after suffering from a mental breakdown and illness, he hopes the ritual will heal him. The book is full of wonders, struggles, and unique ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the outset, I really enjoyed the idea of this book. The story he was telling really drew me in. There were some very moving passages and descriptions of the places he visited and the people he met. I really valued his honesty, particularly the parts of the journey that didn't lead to any great enlightenment and in fact, made him question things even more. I think this book would have benefited from being slightly shorter some time the pace was a bit slow. I could not really identify with ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Poorly researched,edited and ultimately written, I've given up inside 50 pages
Research; try st.James as the patron saint of pilgrim
Edited; page after page of missed cliff hangers and plot leads
Written; for someone who stopped believing as a teebagert, there's an intrinsic confortableness with religiosity. Wouldn't it be more honest, if less marketable to be agnostic?
Catherine Jeffrey
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-books
Read for the Blackwell’s book group. This is a journey undertaken in search of healing. Although the author visits many holy places he sees them through the eyes of a non believer and his descriptions reflect this. The ending is quite unusual. I would have liked a post script that updated the reader on how the author arrived home and if he was able to move forward in life again.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can religion still have meaning for those without faith?
Nick Spencer
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
engaging and honest
Jan 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, ham-library, dnf
Focused more on religious history rather than the pilgrimage itself. This made it quite boring.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazing account of an amazing journey. Reflective, honest, thought provoking.
Steve Streeter
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking and reflective .. Guy Stagg opened up his heart and soul to share his journey - a beautiful meditation on pilgrimage
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Abandoned before the end as I just didn't care any more. Book group's unanimous verdict on the author's so-called pilgrimage was "Why?"
Adeptus Fringilla
Excellent story. Well told.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy hearing about activities and events that I believe (or hope) I will never take part in myself. This pleasant account of a pilgrimage fulfilled this want.
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story to get lost in

I really enjoyed how this story was told, with the author adding his thoughts and feeling through out the narration.
A pilgrimage with not much of a closure, but at least it was filled with interesting historical tidbits - And kudos to the author for undertaking this long journey.
Ellie Broughton
Well written but better suited to someone more interested in the history of Christianity.
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“The pilgrimage provided a sense of purpose. As well as the long march towards Jerusalem, it also knitted my life into the landscape. The months were replaced by the shifting seasons, while he weeks were measured out in rounds of worship. Staying in monasteries and convents, presbyteries and churches calmed what was restless within me, and during the regular services I noticed how the minutes slowed and the silence assembled, until the days were worth more than they had been before.” 1 likes
“At the start of the journey, I thought I was walking into the wreckage of Christianity. My impression now was of how much remained, holding tight to its decayed inheritance. Despite the decline of religion in Europe, it was still possible to cross the continent like a medieval pilgrim: traveling on foot, stopping at shrines, and supported by charity. Still possible to find comfort in pilgrim rites, even if the belief was gone. So maybe decline was also evidence of endurance, and loss the price we pay for surviving.” 1 likes
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