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“A Day in the Life” should be an easy thing for a historical novelist to write about. After all, the very thing we research is the daily routine of the era. But when it came to writing about a day in the life of an eighth-century pilgrim, a lot of variables appeared before me.

Where does the day start? In a city? An abbey? The woods? And where does it end? The aforementioned city, abbey, or woods? How about a village or an estate?

And whose day is it? A woman desperate for a child? A man hoping a saint will cure him of the chronic coughs that sometimes cause him to spit up blood? A teen girl who hears voices that tell her to set her home on fire? An old priest wanting to atone for sins and spend less time in Purgatory? A man who murdered someone in a fight in a tavern?

And what social class is this pilgrim? An aristocrat has different transport, companions, and lodging than a commoner.

Finally, I settled on a character I had already created for The Cross and the Dragon and The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar (forthcoming), Sister Elisabeth, who has heard about the afterlife for all 50 of her years and would like to spend less time in Purgatory, perhaps even avoid it. Read my post at Unusual Historicals for what a day in medieval pilgrim’s life was like.

The Pilgrimage to Canterbury by Thomas Stothard, 1806-7

The Pilgrimage to Canterbury by Thomas Stothard, 1806-7