Friday, January 8, 2021

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser {Book Review}

 **I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All thoughts are my own. 

With her oldest son taking a gap year in Europe, her aging father losing his sight and his memory, and her husband of twenty years announcing that he's leaving her, Abbie Jowett is surrounded by overwhelming loss. 

Desperate to mend her marriage and herself, she follows her son, Bobby, to walk the famed Camino pilgrimage. During their journey they encounter Rasa, an Iranian woman working in secret helping other refugees, and Caroline, a journalist who is studying pilgrims on the Camino while searching for answers from her broken past. 

Each individual has their own reasons for the pilgrimage, but together they learn that the Camino strips you bare and calls you into deep soul-searching that can threaten all your best laid plans. 

Elizabeth Musser, an Atlanta native, lives and works with her husband in southern France. She is the author of 11 novels, including the critically acclaimed The Swan House and When I Close My Eyes.

The Promised Land is the third book in Elizabeth Musser's The Swan House series. I must admit, I did not realize that this was part of a series until after I'd finished reading and sat down to write this review. It truly felt like a complete story as a standalone. I would still be curious to go back and see what I missed in previous books though! 

In this book, we meet Abbie in the midst of some huge changes in her life. She has moved into a smaller home, her sons have left and in the midst of it all her husband has announced he wants a separation. When her oldest son Bobby informs her that he will be inviting Rasa- an Iranian refugee he has just met- along with him on the Camino Pilgrimage, she invites herself along as a chaperone of sorts. This story follows the journey of Abbie, Bobby, Rasa and Caroline- a journalist documenting the pilgrimage while on her own journey of discovery. While all have very different struggles and reasons for going on this journey, I enjoyed seeing how their stories and their lives were intertwined--- often in unexpected ways. It is a beautiful story of faith, healing and forgiveness that I personally enjoyed. 

I read a lot of books. Seriously, a LOT. Pair that with a horrible short term memory and I must admit that I tend to forget quite a bit from the books I have read until then. Still, there are always a few books that really stick in my mind long after the final page. Among these books was another great read by Elizabeth Musser called When I Close My Eyes. I loved the beautiful way she discussed mental illness and Christianity within that story. As I finished The Promised Land, I couldn't help but think that this will be another one that stays with me for a very long time. She has such a beautiful way of creating characters and journeys that draw you in and tug at your heart. In this book, one particular moment really resonated with me--- a moment in which the pilgrims laid their stones at the foot of a cross. This reminded me so much of one of my own 'wow God' moments which involved laying stones at the cross and turning it all over to God. It was a really powerful moment in my own life, and as such brought a lot of power to this moment in the book. 

Overall, this was an absolutely beautiful and inspiring read, and one that I would highly recommend. 


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