Easter - so much so that I laughed aloud at the first page and exclaimed with horrified delight at another. I recommended it and lent it to people. So when a friend recommended Jubilate by the same author I bought it with a click (I know - one-click ordering is very dangerous for me) and looked forward to reading it on holiday.
Sadly, the experience didn't repeat itself. I found myself quite readily putting it aside for a chat, or dozing in the sun with it on my lap. I found that by the end of the book I still had no feel for the main characters, and the other pilgrims were characterless. I didn't even feel the need to flip back to check which was which, as I had at the beginning of Easter (and a list of dramatis personae would have perhaps helped in Jubilate).
The religious experiences described didn't really do it for me either. Gillian's faith was a pale shadow in the background, and Vincent's glimpses of the divine lacked, I felt, any conviction. I wondered if the two points of view and the sequence of chapters somehow diluted the effect of the narration - Gillian's story begins at the end of a pilgrimage to Lourdes and Vincent's at the beginning - because the two stories were too similar. There wasn't enough revelation when each narrator came to key events, so that the technique that worked so well in Easter seemed to fall short in Jubilate.
All that said, I've learned enough about a pilgrimage to Lourdes to ensure that I never think of going on one - in a way it comes across as a festering blight on the face of the country - and I did finish the book. But I can't agree with Peter Stanford writing in The Guardian when he talks about the urgency of a great romance, and the metaphysical debate didn't exercise the grey cells much, I'm afraid. Maybe it was all a bit too close to reality, maybe it lacked the exaggeration that made Easter such a show-stealer. In fact, what I recall now is a sense that this is a dutiful record of a love story on a pilgrimage, but one that lacks passion of any kind. It might almost have been real - and sometimes that's not enough.