In the summer of 2000, Robert Hanrott and Martha Horsley walked the pilgrim's route from Canterbury, England to Rome with a group of fellow hikers. Reminded of the Canterbury Tales, written six hundred years before, they had the idea of creating a modern set of travelers, each the equivalent of a medieval Chaucerian character, and having them tell their personal stories against the backdrop of the beautiful French, Swiss, and Italian countryside.
The result is Telling Tales, a set of twelve prose stories supplemented with original drawings and rhymed verse. The verse is a parody of Chaucerian verse, and the Prologue will be recognizable as such by many readers.
Twelve men and women, American and British, meet in Canterbury at the ancient Falstaff Inn. They are on holiday but nonetheless agree that each will tell a tale during the course of the journey, in the spirit of the 14th Century Canterbury Tales. Their tales reflect their professional as well as their personal lives, and they reveal age-old virtues, vices, and emotions such as love, hypocrisy and revenge. At the same time, however, they explore such contemporary themes as appearance, sexual function, counseling, and business practices.
Telling Tales offers a variety of entertaining stories including one featuring a talking bird (The Talk Show Host's Tale) and another a hitherto undiscovered aphrodisiac (The Herbalist's Tale). It also offers strategies for improving your appearance (The Plastic Surgeon's Tale), evading environmental regulations (The Small Businessman's Tale), and skewering your bureaucratic colleagues (The Bureaucrat's Tale). The stories are in contemporary English with slight variations in usage depending on whether the speaker is English or American. Overall, the book is a light-hearted take on modern life.