The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

I have to admit that almost everything I knew about this book before reading it was garnered from reading Louisa M Alcott’s Little Women.

I vaguely knew it was a religious allegory and I probably wouldn’t have bothered reading it if I hadn’t acquired a copy in a box of books I bought at an auction.  And I wouldn’t have bothered reading it even then had I not been surprised by how slim a volume it was.

The book is in two parts, which I didn’t know from my Little Women reading.  The first part follows the journey of Christian who realises his life in his city is empty and meaningless and that he needs to change.  He is scoffed at by his family, friends and neighbours but continues anyway.  On his journey he gets sidetracked and waylaid and is also helped by others to find his way again and to reach the promised land.

The second part is about Christian’s wife and children who, realising the error of their ways, decide to follow in his footsteps and redeem themselves.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  I am not a religious person but I didn’t find the book too preachy.  I feel the message about striving to be better people is about more than organised religion and is more about the human condition.

The language is a little archaic to a 21st century ear, a bit like reading the language of the King James Bible, which might be a bit off-putting but you get a lot of story in 115 pages.

I enjoyed spotting the bits referenced in the March sister’s playing at Pilgrim’s Progress although these were much fewer than I had expected.

Would I recommend others to read this book?  Probably not, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend rushing out to buy it, although if a copy ever comes your way give it a go.

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