Book Review: Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing

Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing
Published By: Random House Australia
Publication Date: February 2, 2015
Page Count: 352
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Adult Fiction

Arkie has had a pretty bad year. Her husband left her, her lover dumped her, and she has completely lost her mojo at work. Unable to face another year of misery, she plans to end it all on New Year’s Eve. But when she meets Haruko, she decides that dying can wait a little longer. Haruku has what Arkie has lost – the ability to read and identify coming trends. When she identifies pilgrimage as a current trend, Arkie hires Haruko to be her guide. Unable to afford the trip to Japan to visit the 88 temples of the Shikoku pilgrimage, the pair set off on an Australian version – visiting the Big Things. 

Entering the proper mindset for a pilgrimage isn’t easy. Dressing simply, travelling humbly and avoiding meat and sex should be easy (especially in Arkie’s lovelorn state), but both Arkie and Haruko will face challenges along the way. 

 There is a fairly heavy element of magical realism in the story, fates align and Arkie and Haruku find what they need, when they need it, and leave a little something for those they meet along the way. 

Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing has a really interesting premise and is well told, the problem for me was that I just didn’t particularly like Arkie as a character. I didn’t have any sympathy for the fact that she’d lost her predictive abilities and was mooning over two men, neither of which wanted her any more. Had I liked her more, it may have increased my enjoyment of the book as a whole, but as it was, I wasn’t terribly invested in Arkie getting her mojo back or getting the man. The book is released today, which happens to be my 40th birthday, so I get the midlife crisis thing and the search for something more when life doesn’t seem to be living up to its promise, but I wanted more of a connection. 

 That said, there’s a lovely sense of nostalgia for a slightly more innocent Australia and what seems, with hindsight, a simpler time. I visited several of the Big Things mentioned (and a few that aren’t) growing up, and have fond memories of that time. The novel taps into that. 

 Worth a read – you may find Arkie more engaging than I did.

A delightfully funny and inspiring novel about a very modern pilgrimage, and one woman's chance to rediscover what she's lost.

'I watch the highway go by and ponder my situation. I am on the run from my husband's divorce lawyer, my mojo is still missing in action and my demon ex-lover is lurking . . . But, all things considered, my pilgrimage is going well . . .'

Arkie used to be a trendspotter, running a successful business advising companies on ‘the next big thing'. Until she lost her marriage and her mojo along with it.

Her eccentric new friend Haruko suggests a pilgrimage in Japan. But funds are tight, so instead Arkie's going on a very Australian trip, to all the ‘Big Things'.

With Haruko as her guide, magic is everywhere. A Buddha appears next to the Big Redback, the Big Macadamia rises from the jungle like a lost temple and inside the Big Shell she can hear a tinkling voice, reminding her of the child she never had.

As her improbable adventure unfolds, realisation dawns: could it be that, despite her celebrated foresight, Arkie's been missing what was right before her eyes?


  1. Books about pilgrimaging is not really something I would consider or choose to pick up myself. But I am sure other people can find this book more interesting, especially when it comes to the difficulties both characters will face.


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