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le 31 août 2007
I finished What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim, by Jane Christmas, at 1.30 am yesterday. I just couldn't put it down.

I love everything in that book: the complexion of it, the spirit. It's funny and moving at the same time and even if you can tell that the author is a pious person, she keeps an open and critical mind about her fellow pilgrims (and herself). Pilgrims are human beings, right? And when human beings are concerned, anything is to be expected and the book is indeed rich in (mis)adeventures.

The book, of course, is about the author's personal experience, but it says so much about the way we humans are - and so much about the Camino itself from an historical and geographical perspective - that even though I'm a "veteran" of the Camino myself, I think that anybody who hasn't walk it will enjoy it! And maybe even walk it one day or another, because, as they'll see, some miracles seem to be still possible after all.
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I don't know what compelled me to read this book other than the fact that the covered mentioned something about Spain's Camino - one of the world's biggest networks of pilgrimages. Like Lourdes in the south of France, the Camino (a trio of lengthy treks to the putative sepulcher of St. James) attracts tens of thousands of hikers every year. Some are the faithful who want to draw closer to God through acts of penance, while others simply turn-up for the challenge of trudging 750 kilometers through mountainous terrain on the way to Santiago. Since this annual affair has been going on for hundreds of years, the Spanish population is well prepared to provide various degrees of hospitality for the sojourners. I even discovered a number of websites that help out-of-towners make travel arrangements to the starting line on the French side of the Pyrenees. Christmas' story is one of a wild adventure that went way beyond her initial expectations for taking the journey. Going through a mid-life crisis in Canada, resulting from a failed marriage, Christmas decided to organize a group of friends to accompany her on the roughest stretch of the Camino. For the next month or so her story unfolds along the lines of learning to adjust to the biggest challenge in her life to date: finding God in herself. As Christmas struggles to overcome the aches and pains, the fear and loathing, and the growing sense of disillusionment, she gradually learns to look outside herself and her little group of so-called friends to find a whole new world beckoning her. While the Spanish countryside and its many decrepit little villages may not possess the spiritual values that she is idealistically looking for to get her life going again, they contain a strong sense of newness and vitality that will challenge her time-worn sensibilities. By the end of the pilgrimage, she has become a transformed person who relates more effectively with people outside her traditional bailiwick, and can begin to take risks with her emotions. There is a lot of fun and high spirit in this book.
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le 29 octobre 2009
A few short months ago,I was introduced to this wonderful book/guide. I couldn't put it down, Liked it so much I to am preparing myself to walk,"The Camino de Santiago"! In fact I'm going in August/September of 2010! Jane has put so much inspiration/Love & Humour in this amazing read,you feela as though you're there with her! She has kept hersanity through the ,"bitching/cat fights/blisters &her fearlessness,(to take on such a long journey),physicaly,is one thing. But to take on your "inner-self", is another more bumpy journey! Thank-you Jane! Blessings Nancy
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le 16 octobre 2009
Jane Christmas is fast becoming my favourite author. Her first book, "The Pelee Project" was an outstanding memoir of a three-month sabatical on Pelee Island, Ontario with one of her three children. I read it in one weekend! What the even better and funnier and more probing. You can literally feel the pain and angst she suffered along with the comic moments. I read it in one weekend. Because of her, I have registered for Spanish lessons and am getting in shape to walk the Camino. Thank you Jane for inspiring so many people. I look forward to reading her third and current book, "Incontinent on the Continent". I plan on reading it this weekend.
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I read this book because I had been hearing a lot recently about the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I had watched the movie The Way and thought, maybe, just maybe, I could attempt such walk even at my advanced age! This book was incredibly enlightening. The walk is obviously not for the faint of heart or certainly the elderly. The movie made it look like a walk in the park, this book I am presuming tells it like it really is, a very difficult walk. I enjoyed the way it was written and the experiences and encounters the author had with others.She is very entertaining. I didn't find her whiney at all, I thought she was very stoic and I would have left the other women behind as well with all their little cliques and infantile ways. I kept thinking while reading that she probably would not complete the walk because she repeatedly kept threatening to quit.Kudos to her that that she did. Why I gave this book only three stars is because I felt very let down at the end regarding the English man she met. The odd relationship was never explained satisfactorily at all and leaves the reader hanging. I understand perhaps his situation was very personal and he didn't want information disclosed but it would have been better to have left him out of the storyline completely or mentioned him vaguely as if he was just yet another of her encounters enroute thus confirming the psychic's prediction. The hotel room experience she relates I found very odd.I came to the conclusion that not many make this walk as your typical "pilgrimage" but everyone seems to end it with some sort of positive enlightenment. It's a good book which thoroughly convinced me I should have done the walk twenty years ago!
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le 1 juin 2010
The main reason I bought this book was curiosity.
And it was a great choice. I walked a little less than
300km on the Camino in 1996. Reading Ms Christmas'
experience was the next best thing to walking the Camino
again, minus the blisters. I would recommend that any
audacious souls who want to live that experience should
read What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim prior to their

Since I am French speaking, I purchased the book from
Amazon and read it with my best friend, the English-French

All the experiences on the Camino are highly
personal. As a man, I was very much interested in reading
a woman's point of view. The pain and blisters on the feet
seems the same, lodging in the shelters is the daily
surprise for both sexes, the dynamic among women
travelling together is dreadfully different from my manly
experience. Like the refugios along the Camino, the
characters/pilgrims are all different and offer unique
gifts or unique headaches.

The narrative is inspired, the metaphors humorously
sparkling with genuine insight that illuminate that
wonderful experience. The scenery through Christmas' eyes
is evocative and superb. You almost feel as if you are
walking beside the author. Don't miss the real
love-friendship story developing in the story.

The return to normal life is always difficult, either
by walking the Camino or reading What the Psychic Told the
Pilgrim. Prepare for it; it is addictive. The result is
highly entertaining: it offers a new perspective in life,
a new love-friendship relation for Christmas and for many
pilgrims; an inspirational read for you, or the rereading
of a happy distant journey for me. Everybody can find
something in this book to which they can relate.

Clement Pauze
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le 12 juin 2012
I'm surprised by the reviews I'm seeing. I found this book to be tedious and the author whiny. Page after page is filled with complaints. It is no wonder that she was continuously ditched on this pilgrimage.
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le 23 décembre 2015
I walked the Camino in November 2014 and I thought it was THE best thing I've ever done in my life. I recently came across Jane Christmas' book - What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim - and I am writing this review to share how much I enjoyed reading through it. Not only was it a very entertaining read, it, more importantly I'd argue, brought back so many sweet moments and poignant memories from my own journey. I remember the pains of hurting shoulders and blistered feet, the excitement to run across fellow pilgrims and exclaim "Buen Camino!", the horror of sleeping next to a CRAZY LOUD snorer (mine happened in Pamplona, he was The Loud Italian Snorer whose Wife Can't Even Sleep Beside Him - ditto to pilgrims' monikers!), the joy of drinking endless amounts of vino tinto at dinner time without breaking the bank (2 Euro/glass for a Crianza Rioja wine? WHAT!), the simple happiness of a cup of cafe con leche y zumo naranja for breakfast, the delicious bocadillos for lunch, and even the pulpo from Melide (please tell me you had some!)

All that is to say: THANK YOU, Jane. I'm glad you penned your experience down to share it with the world.
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le 2 novembre 2015
I really did not enjoy this book at all- many people told me; 'you must read this book, before you do the Camino' despite these well intentioned suggestions... I must honestly question whether these people walked the Camino... Just like I questioned whether JC ever walked- as there were many references and descriptions given that were so opposite of the reality.

I'm embarrassed that I actually suggested my book club read it, as I walked the Camino, and while I read it as well. Her account of the journey is so negative and whiney... Not to mention straight up false at times.

She described trails, local people, and albergues as so difficult, rude and filthy! I was actually expecting a very dismal experience- when in fact... It was the most magnificent experiences in my life- the trail is, indeed, difficult at times, but it so beautiful! I found the people very kind, and all the albergues I stayed in were clean and very representable.

I could go on for days at what a BAD BOOK this is, and at the end of the day- I will simply remember we all view life through a different lense. Jane Christmas- clean your glasses! And readers- please move on to a better read.
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le 3 juin 2014
What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim
A Midlife Misadventure on Spain’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela

Jane Christmas possesses an easy style that is infused with humor. For example, she begins her novel: “Impulse is intuition on crack." It is her humor that sees her through this incredibly taxing 800 km pilgrimage through Spain.

Christmas decides to walk the Camino on a whim. She is in need of a unique way to mark her impending fiftieth birthday. An air steward on a WestJet flight from Hamilton to British Columbia, happens to mention that he and his wife “… - there always seems to be a wife -…” (4) walked the Camino for one of their holidays, and just like that Christmas is off. I felt a pang of envy at her financial ability to go to the Camino in matter of months when I have been plotting to make the pilgrimage for more than a decade – and to make it on my own.

She spends the next pages divulging how she came to be part of a group eager to make the pilgrimage, and how she trained along the Bruce Trail in preparation for her hike.

In Chapter 2 she consults a physic who tells her a few things: to be frugal (she will be gone for more than a month and not working – duh?), not to take jewelry (she will be hiking in sludge for more than a month and staying in communal hostels – double-duh), that she will meet two female celebrities on the trail, that she will do a similar trip in the future, that the women in the group will become a problem (I could have told her that for free), that she will experience a death while she is away, and that she will be tanned and fit by the end of it (she will be hiking 800 km under the Spanish sun – thanks for the tip psychic sister).

The psychic mentions a fair-haired man and the fact the Jane will remarry and have another home soon. She also tells Christmas that she will enjoy a positive change on the job front. As a reader, I enjoyed this beginning and read hungrily to see what if any predictions came true.

Her description of the refugios are likely the most authentic of any book I have ever read about the Camino. Her use of simile is effective. “I shook off the rain like a dog” (167). She also beautifully describes the beauty of the countryside as well as the unpleasant aspects of the walk like the knee deep mud mixed with dog s*** in which they become stuck. She describes the lack of refugio accommodations for pilgrims, which I found shocking.

She makes mention of events in the area. “You may be familiar with the running of the Bulls…” (95). She also underwrites events of historical significance. “In 1119, just after the First Crusade….around the same time, the pilgrim trade was booming” (215). These are interesting and essential to the narrative.

The book is the best I have read about the Camino. It is an honest account of the trials and tribulations of the trek. Her humor and warmth make such a harsh journey bearable.

I highly recommend this book.
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