Tom Wilcher is a miserly lawyer deeply at odds with the modern world.
On the verge of death, he plots to run away and marry his former housekeeper Sara Monday. He reviews his life and times, looking back on the bloody conflicts that ushered in the twentieth century and on the varied fortunes of the close-knit family that he both resents and adores.
To Be a Pilgrim is a study in contradictions, the confession of a political radical turned reactionary, of a religious man and sometime sexual offender, of a miserly landowner who is also a passionate defender of the beauties of an English countryside threatened by economic development. In the end, however, Cary shows us that Tom Wilcher, for all his disappointment and anger, is indeed a pilgrim, searching for redemption almost in spite of himself.
“A remarkable novel. An original attempt to embody a complete vision of life, and it contains scenes as vivid and beautiful as anything else in modern fiction.”
“Its excellence lies in the great skill with which a character is drawn in all its variety, in the minor portraits of members of
his family with their subsidiary stories and in the unhesitating and illuminating detail of half a century of English life.”
“A sheer pleasure to read. Joyce Cary writes with such grace and wit we can never have enough of it.”