The Pilgrim [NOOK Book]


"Nissenson, acclaimed for his powerful narratives (The Days of Awe; The Tree of Life), here shows the tight grip of religious devotion on one young man's mind ... History, politics, faith, and daily life all come together in a strong story."
- Library Journal

Praise for High Nissenson's The Days of Awe:

"I just finished The Days of Awe. I ...
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The Pilgrim

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"Nissenson, acclaimed for his powerful narratives (The Days of Awe; The Tree of Life), here shows the tight grip of religious devotion on one young man's mind ... History, politics, faith, and daily life all come together in a strong story."
- Library Journal

Praise for High Nissenson's The Days of Awe:

"I just finished The Days of Awe. I am too moved to move. (Even this pen.) An amazing novel. It is as if we are eavesdropping on life."
- Cynthia Ozick

"If you believe the best novels should be transformative, should rip the dusty curtains from our everyday vision; if you don't mind being terrorized by a narrative, then you'll be looking at a different world when you finish these pages."
- Carolyn See, Washington Post

"A deep affirmation of life in all its mystery and agony and joy."
- Frederick M. Dolan, author of Allegories of America

"Nissenson's haunting, deeply moral novel asks the largest questions, and with tough lyric elegance, illuminates the smallest moments. The Days of Awe is a Great Awakening elegy for all our lives even as we live them."
- Johanna Kaplan, author of 0 My America

"A Masterpiece!"
- Amos Elon, author of The Pity of It All
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Editorial Reviews

Ron Charles
…a strikingly original novel about a Puritan who comes to the New World in 1622. Without any cranberry sauce or witch burnings to spice things up, The Pilgrim offers, instead, the most intimate engagement with those early Americans that I've found in a work of fiction…With remarkable fidelity Nissenson imitates the jarringly stark voice, the intensely devout tone and the harrowing details of physical survival that mark writings of this period. He also retains enough of the period diction to sound authentic but not so much to leave us baffled.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Charles Wentworth is born into a life of piety in England near the turn of the 17th century, but suffers a crisis of faith from earliest childhood, feeling that he can never live up to his father’s Puritan standards. Harsh punishments and rewards create a self-loathing young man who feels responsible for everything and in control of nothing. As he ages, he witnesses the tragedies of his era: extreme poverty, smallpox that disfigures him and takes the lives of many, and criminals punished communally, and severely, in the name of God. In 1622, Charles travels to the New World, to the Puritan settlement of Plymouth Plantation, in search of a new life and religion. Enamored of the odd landscape and strong settlers (including historical figures like Capt. Miles Standish), Charles takes part in the early Indian wars and experiences the horrible conditions of life in the colonies, which pale in comparison to that of his homeland, finally giving Charles the perspective he seeks. A confessed passion for language doesn’t exactly shine through in Charles’s written “confession,” which serves as this book’s form; observations often have an anthropological tone, which can be tedious. Nissenson’s first novel since 1985 (after Days of Awe) is a detailed yet often cursory historical account. (Nov.)
Historical Novel Review
Nissenson has penned a bleak, unsparing novel, peopled with flawed humans and accurate period details.
The Pilgrim is such a delightful find. Hugh Nissenson's moody, intelligent novel is about a tormented English Puritan who strikes out for the Plymouth Plantation in 1622... It conjures up that dangerous black magic spell that the most powerful historical novels cast: The Pilgrim makes us feel that, even if this version of the past isn't quite accurate, this is the version we wholeheartedly believe - at least for the space of reading."
— Maureen Corrigan
Library Journal
What starts off as a confession, a precondition before acceptance into the congregation at Plymouth of 1625, turns into the recitation of a journey between joy and hell for Charles Wentworth. Son of a Church of England minister, Charles prefers the separatists to the "popery" of the Church of England and swings between pious devotion to the Bible and the lures of the world and the flesh. Both desires take him from his provincial home to Cambridge, London, and eventually to the New World. Wherever he is, Wentworth's soul is always haunted by the question of whether he is saved or doomed in God's eyes. Nissenson, acclaimed for his powerful narratives (The Days of Awe; The Tree of Life), here shows the tight grip of religious devotion on one young man's mind, alongside the gritty world of early 17th-century England and Plymouth, MA. This is a look at not just how the Pilgrims lived but also how the human mind can torture itself in the name of God. VERDICT History, politics, faith, and daily life all come together in a strong story that will appeal to readers who appreciate any of those themes.—W. Keith McCoy, Somerset Cty. Lib. Syst., Bridgewater, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Coming of age as a New England Pilgrim was a tough, bloody and sexy business. Charles Wentworth always had doubts. Raised in the English town of Winterbourne, "a godly town," as the son of a minister, the young man has all his needs cared for. But unlike his father, or even their illiterate servant Ben, his faith is shaky. Perhaps because of various heartaches and brutality not uncommon as the 17th century began--the death of his mother, the hanging of his nursemaid for infanticide, the smallpox that claims a friend and leaves him scared--Charles cannot believe he will be among the elect, those he believes are predestined to be saved. Even his love of learning seems to be a trick of the Devil's, a lure into vanity. Unwilling to finish his degree at Cambridge, young Charles bounces around, falling often into such sins as getting drunk and even visiting whores, despite his basic leaning toward the spare "true faith"--or Puritan--religion that his father secretly espoused. When the opportunity to emigrate to New England comes, he grabs it. The freedom to worship, however, comes with starvation, sickness and the constant fear of Indian attacks. It also brings the promise of new love and--eventually--the promise of salvation. Told in a straightforward first-person that indulges in just enough period detail to sound convincing, Nissenson's latest (The Days of Awe, 2005, etc.) is a marvelously intimate look back through time. Charles' fears and desires are made quite believable as he recalls the everyday horrors of the time--and the bits of Scripture that both justified and aggravated them. And while the young protagonist earnestly seeks salvation, his all-too-human failings--such as when he and the pretty Abigail Winslow flirt on the Sabbath--make him as sympathetic as any young striver since Holden Caulfield. The author's return to historical fiction raises human questions with immediacy and flair.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402271120
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 613,794
  • File size: 864 KB

Meet the Author

Hugh Nissenson is the author of eight books, including the recent illustrated novel The Song of the Earth, which received a number of superb reviews in the New Yorker, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times among others. His previous novel The Tree of Life was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pen-Faulkner Award in 1985. He lives in New York City.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 17, 2011

    Don't bother, this is a bad book

    I read this over Thanksgiving, thinking it would be interesting to go back in time to the Pilgrim era. I had trouble forcing myself to finish the book. I did not like the selfish and egotistical main character and the author seemed to have an adolescent fascination with bodily functions. The author was especially obsessed with people losing control of their bowels when they die (and I know this is a common misconception, not every death involves a release of the bowels) - unnecessarily gross. The historical aspects were only mildly interesting; I like historical fiction in general, but this was not worth the time I put into reading it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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