A Hiker's Guide to Purgatory

A Novel



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Product Details

Product Code:
0.69 (in)
Size (HxW):
8 x 5.25 (in)
Publication date:
May 16, 2022
10.53 oz
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Product Overview

A Hiker's Guide to Purgatory is Norton's first novel.

One morning, attorney Dan Geary, seventy-seven years old, finds himself in the middle of a rolling, polychrome landscape. The greens are bold and bright. Birds sing in the distance. Tall grasses surge like a sea before the wind. He has never seen anything quite like it. But somehow—with the doctors and beeping monitors suddenly gone—he knows exactly where he is: the afterlife.

What a relief not to be floating on a cloud, playing a harp. Instead, a hiking pack full of gear sits on his back, and he feels the familiar itch to start walking toward the far-off mountains. But he finds there is no trail, no map, no signage, and no one else in sight. As gorgeous as the scenery is, Dan feels in his bones: this is Purgatory.

Growing up, he'd imagined Purgatory as a detention center for delinquent children. What a surprise to see its beauty, and to feel so much hope. Yet along the winding way, Dan starts recognizing his tangled, imperfect, often wasted life, and he wonders if he will ever be ready to meet God. With no clue how long his hike will take, he gradually learns—through memories and through encounters with other Heaven-bound hikers—how to desire the good, how to wait, and how to long for love.

With confessional honesty and a sense of humor, this book reimagines the purification of the afterlife as a tough journey saturated with faith, hope, and love—and with overwhelming beauty.

Editorial Reviews

"Norton's entertaining and thoughtful debut imaginatively examines a life after death, deftly balancing spiritual, moral, and psychological analysis with gentle humor."
— Eleanor Nicholson, Author, A Bloody Habit: A Novel

"Grab your favorite walking stick and join newly deceased Dan Geary as he hikes his way to Heaven. But be warned: this soul has lots to learn. A book of rare value, a you-are-there broadcast from the beyond. Read it, and find yourself making better use of the gift of this life as preparation for the next."
— David Pinault, Author, Providence Blue: A Fantasy Quest

"Norton goes where most authors fear to tread: the journey of a soul through the barren deserts, dark forests and daunting mountain ranges of Purgatory. He’s created an adventure story in the tradition of the medieval quest and a meditation on the many obstacles to holiness that may be encountered—and ultimately overcome—in life."
— Fiorella Nash, Author, The Sleeping Witness: A Father Gabriel Mystery


(6 reviews) Write a Review

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  • 5
    Wonderful! Wonder-full!

    Posted by Paul Brandenburg on Jan 29th 2024

    Not just a story about Everyman's journey in a world different from but strangely like ours. Not a story to satisfy our curiosity about the afterlife. Not a theological exploration of that mysterious notion of Purgatory. Rather, Michael Norton has written a charming, winsome story to enlarge our consciousness . . . to "remind" us: that our universal quest for shalom is undertaken in relationships with others; that these relationships survive and transcend limitations accompanying death; that the near universal sense that we're surrounded by a "cloud of witnesses" who've gone on before us is not for nothing; and that we can all continue to grow in these precious relationships, in love, and in ever-brighter closeness to God . . . through the great gift of PRAYER. Positively enchanting and, I daresay, True. Thank you, Michael.

  • 5

    Posted by Clare Held on Sep 10th 2023

    An engaging novel that draws the reader to examine his own life while following the protagonist’s story. The story is compelling while the take on purgatory is calming rather than anxiety producing. Recommend to anyone who doesn’t feel prepared for death (basically all of us.)

  • 5
    Wonderful book!

    Posted by JJM on Aug 1st 2023

    With an enjoyable set of character and a wonderful imagination, the author really takes you on a journey through purgatory. The author paints a vivid and beautiful picture with his words and a touching story with his pen. As a casual hiker I could relate to the love of God's beautiful creation (known here and imagined there). But there is a poignant line in the book that "there is no evil (in purgatory)... and there is no falsehood. But I never said that there wouldn't be suffering." That is a tale that hikers and non-hikers alike should hear!

  • 5
    Enlightening and moving.

    Posted by Deb Brunsberg on Aug 22nd 2022

    This is, of course, a fictionalized novel of a time in purgatory, hiking through purgatory. It would be most wonderful if even with the struggled endured, it would be this easy. This book does a good job of explaining the things we don't see about ourselves or acknowledge and for some, not caring. All debts will have to be paid. I found the adventure to be enlightening and several times convicting and the soul searching Dan had to do hitting home and bringing me to tears. We will all have to atone for our sins and dying a saint would be the goal, but if we do not, let us pray that we at least repented and had the time to reconcile with God before we go. If not, we may not get that opportunity to hike through purgatory. That gate is narrow and those who make it through are few.

  • 5
    A beautiful retelling of Dante’s Purgatorio

    Posted by Charles Schmidt on Aug 12th 2022

    Michael Norton’s A Hiker’s Guide to Purgatory is a 21st-Century reimagining of Dante’s Purgatorio, and it’s a very well-done retelling of Dante’s classic narrative poem. Whereas Dante’s Purgatory was dark and gloomy, with the souls laboring to pay off the debts of their sins, this new version looks on the bright side and it also agrees with Catholic theology. And though Michael Norton’s novel cannot match Dante Alighieri’s beautiful poetry, Norton does a superb job in telling a gripping tale with many marvelous insights. In Purgatory, the protagonist, Dan Geary, realizes that if you love your neighbor, you’ll tell your neighbor the truth about God, which is that Catholicism is true. He also learns that avoiding evil is not enough since the basic principle of ethics is “Do good and avoid evil” and not “Avoid evil”. We’re here on earth to do good, not just avoid evil. Dante ended his Divine Comedy in a woods, where he looked up at the night sky in awe and wonder as he watched “the love that moves the universe.” God’s love does rule the universe, and Michael Norton’s guide to Purgatory helps you to feel His love.

  • 5
    Readable, inspiring

    Posted by Patricia Lasusky on May 25th 2022

    I took a chance on this novel and was so impressed, I bought several more to give to friends. Poignant, inspirational, never sappy or overly sentimental, somewhat oriented toward the male reader but can be enjoyed by anyone. A good read, and a good reminder of how so to live.