Set in the England in 1348, a year when it rained every day from Midsummer's Day to Christmas, a plague (or three) stalks a band of misfits as they try to move north to outrun the pestilence. They are a horribly scarred peddler of religious relics, a surly and overly righteous magician, two musicians recently "let go" from their cushy positions, a pregnant woman and her fresco-painting "husband," an expert in herbs and midwifery with secret beliefs, a storyteller with a story, and a white-haired child who tosses runes to predict the future.
There are no straight lines in the story, and getting to the truth of what set each to the hard life of wandering the road is compelling. Their stories unfold between the tales they weave at the campfire, the tricks they use to earn money, and their confessions in the face of almost certain death from disease and the hardships that bedevil them every day.
The book did exactly what I needed it to do, turn my mind from my today, with the thousands of challenges that are in front of me (and everybody else), and focus me on people who have it much worse. It's not only that misery loves company, being able to say, well at least that isn't happening to me, makes it all feel a little better.