Winner – Edward Stanford Travel Memoir of the Year 2019.
Shortlisted – Rathbones Folio Prize, RSL Ondaatje Prize, and Somerset Maugham Award 2019.
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 extraordinary adventure.
Having left home on New Year’s Day, Stagg climbed over the Alps in midwinter, spent Easter in Rome with a new pope, joined mass protests in Istanbul and survived a terrorist attack in Lebanon. Travelling without support, he had to rely each night on the generosity of strangers, staying with monks and nuns, priests and families. As a result, he gained a unique insight into the lives of contemporary believers and learnt the fascinating stories of the soldiers and saints, missionaries and martyrs who had followed these paths before him.
The Crossway is a book full of wonders, mixing travel and memoir, history and current affairs. At once intimate and epic, it charts the author’s struggle to walk towards recovery, and asks whether religion can still have meaning for those without faith.
A BBC Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’ in 2018.
Stagg's walk and the book that has resulted from it, is a brave, even bravura, performance. * Catholic Herald * The Crossway is eventful, engaging, and often beautiful. But it is the author's inner journey - how his pilgrimage heals him, or fails to - that hooks the reader . . . The Crossway defies easy summary because it refuses easy consolation * Theo's Think Tank * Poignant and poetic . . . an extraordinary journey . . . much of the book is taken up with absorbing accounts of saints and pilgrims, crusaders and revolutionaries . . . the narrative contains some captivating imagery * Times Literary Supplement * He writes beautifully, he really does . . . And he has this extraordinary honesty; he lays himself bare for the reader . . . It's wonderful, it really is wonderful. -- John Maytham's Book Review * CapeTalk Radio * Stagg poignantly recounts not just his own journey as a spiritually-charge Paddy Leigh Fermor but that of the saints, soldiers and pilgrims who trod the path centuries before him. * New Statesman * What a privilege it's been to read this compelling and moving book, to travel with a writer who records everything he sees and feels with such care and passion. The writing is beautiful and his voice so engaging, so unflinchingly honest, throughout. I finished The Crossway and just wanted the author to keep walking. -- James Macdonald Lockhart, author of Raptor The Crossway is a gentle, kind, generous-spirited book, rich in detail, encounter and history. But most importantly, this is the story of a young man, from a secular world, who undertakes a pilgrimage to try and mend himself - a courageous inner journey. -- Neil Griffiths, author of As a God Might Be Behind the cliche of the most important journey in life being the one taken inside oneself lies a timeless and powerful and vital truth: that the goal of such a quest, with all its anguish and revelation and excruciating realisations, is a place of great and lasting calm. This is the core of Guy Stagg's necessary and beautiful book. -- Niall Griffiths, author of Grits After suffering years of severe mental illness, Stagg embarks on a journey from Canterbury to Jerusalem, hoping that the 5,500km walk along medieval pilgrim paths will heal him. Travelling alone, and relying on shelter provided by churches, monasteries and nunneries en route, he faces down many demons along the way, getting caught up in violent snowstorms, the demonstrations in Istanbul's Taksim Square, and a terrorist attack. A BBC Radio 4 "Book of the Week" at publication, it's one of the most compelling travel books I've read in a long time, as well as a thought-provoking meditation on what it means to have faith in our turbulent contemporary world * Bookseller * Guy Stagg has bared his soul and soles in this epic account of walking from England through Italy, the Balkans, Istanbul, Cyprus, Lebanon and on to Jerusalem. His fabulously open hearted account easily bears comparison with the great walking and monastery books of Patrick Leigh Fermor, except he goes further in revealing the damage, and how it might be repaired . . . solvitur ambulando indeed! -- Robert Twigger, author of Red Nile and Angry White Pyjamas The Crossway is moving and unique, with the sense that no one else can write like this about such places as the abbeys of France, the cities of Rome and Istanbul or the daunting landscape of pilgrimage and the often astonishing people whom Guy Stagg meets. At the book's heart is his own story; troubled, he seeks redemption and hope. Does he find them? He makes his search into a story that is gripping and uplifting -- Max Egremont, author of Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia A marvellous book. There's a lovely plainsongish immediacy to the telling that I found hugely beguiling, and (unusually) Stagg is as effective on people as he is on place. It's also a generous piece of self-reckoning -- William Atkins, author of The Moor A gorgeous and moving book -- Jamie Quatro, author of Fire Sermon Guy Stagg makes a pilgrimage across Europe, into history and, most powerfully, the (troubled) interior of his soul. He takes us on a journey full of wonder and woe, poetry and pain; writing in prose that's as sure-footed as it is unsettling in its honesty. A brave and beautiful account of a man's search for meaning -- Rhidian Brook, author of The Aftermath I loved it. Odd that a journey made to find salvation (a kind of 5,500 kilometre Stations of the Cross taking almost a year to walk) should turn out to be such a page turner. The reason is Stagg himself - an engaging, challenging, endlessly interesting companion who just happens to write formidably well. Travel writing has a bright new star. -- Alexander Frater, author of Chasing the Monsoon The journey is remarkable - a hike of thousands of miles across Europe, undertaken with rare bravery and stamina. But what is really extraordinary about Guy Stagg's The Crossway is the writing - acutely sensitive, hyper-alert and unflagging in its exploration of the strange depths and by-ways of human belief -- Philip Marsden, author of Rising Ground The extraordinary story of a pilgrimage to find out the meaning of pilgrimage. Completely absorbing, personal, often funny, and full of fascinating encounters - an enlightening book from an exciting new writer. -- Sarah Bakewell, author of At The Existentialist Cafe A sublime, intense, and intimate account of a journey that becomes a kind of dream in search of solace and, perhaps, even a kind of faith. As the author walks on, across a continent, through history, time, the natural and human world - and the spaces in between - it is hard not to believe you are there, by his side. Beautifully written, filled with strange encounters and extraordinary language, The Crossway is a meditation, an escape, a confrontation, a losing and a finding. It is a timely antidote to our disconnected times. -- Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan and RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR Such pitch-perfect prose that he has already attracted comparisons with Patrick Leigh Fermor's celebrated accounts of his youthful travels * The Tablet * The journey as redemptive recovery is a well-worm trope, but there is no glib ending here. I really enjoyed this book. -- Sara Wheeler * Spectator * Having finished this account, I felt dazed. Dazed at the thought of all that I'd learnt from its pages about 2,000 years of Christianity, dazed at how immediate its author had made so many centuries-old stories feel, and dazed at the strangeness and brilliance of this extraordinary travelogue. -- Rebecca Armstrong * i newspaper * The Crossway is in many ways classic travelogue, so classic indeed that early admirers have drawn parallels with Patrick Leigh Fermor. Stagg certainly has a way with words . . . But in addition - and unlike the rather stiff-upper-lipped Leigh Fermor - Stagg allows an emotional honesty to filter through the golden prose . . . a luminous and occasionally (almost in spite of itself) numinous account . . . moving and thought-provoking -- Peter Stanford * Observer *
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