This book describes a five day national pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Lourdes, where miracle cures are hoped for. The central character is a priest, Pierre, whose faith is faltering. He is accompanying his childhood sweetheart who has been stricken with paralysis and whose faith is strong. In the background of the great irony of this relationship, there are numerous sub-plots, some tragic, some whimsical, involving a large number of characters, set in the midst of organised chaos in the pilgrimage site. Through Pierre’s mental and spiritual experiences Zola explores the role of religious faith in a society coming to terms with science and reason.
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