Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago Hardcover – Sep 28 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
While a student at Harvard Divinity School, Egan found herself immobilized by grief at the death of her father. Almost on a whim, she decided to walk the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage route through northern Spain. The narrative loosely follows the chronology of her journey, and she records many of the trip's details, such as coping with the heat, staying in crowded refugios and dealing with the quirks of local residents. But the book is more than mere travelogue. Egan uses various events on the Camino as catalysts to explore such disparate topics as the history of the cult of relics, how she accidentally discovered breathing meditation and her own feelings of anger, sadness and guilt over her father's death. Indeed, when Egan embraces the essay form, particularly when she shares her moments of confusion and weakness on the journey, her writing is confident, sharp and engaging. By contrast, when she ventures into elements of fiction—such as dialogue and description—the writing often becomes strained. Nevertheless, Egan's effective combining of historical and theological musings with personal experience makes for a satisfying account of the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of religious pilgrimage.
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Egan was a 24-year-old Harvard Divinity School student when her diabetic father died. A year later, she and her fiance set out on a 400-mile journey from the Pyrenees in southern France through the valleys of Navarra and westward along the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of Saint James are supposedly buried. She gives a brief history of the medieval route over the centuries and writes vividly of her own journey--walking through towns, wheat fields, vineyards, and olive tree orchards, along muddy roads filled with giant black slugs, and running out of water in the scorching 110-degree heat. "While I adored him, he was not always kind to us, his children," she writes of her father. Walking many hours each day, Egan began to understand the concept of grief and the presence of God while overcoming her sadness and anger. The book is a compassionate and unforgettable testimony of her pilgrimage. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"I knelt in the back of the church, my forehead on the top lip of the smooth, varnished pew in front of me. The wood was hard against my forehead, . . . .I'd been crying for a long time . . . ."
This is a story of pilgrimage, grieving and transformation, but not a daily journal. There are thirty one numbered episodes, sometimes causing a page break, sometimes just a break in the middle of the page. At a higher level the book is organized into parts, starting with Part 1 Fumbling, Part 2 Walking . . . and so on.
The episodes are a series of vignettes of the Camino experience. They are roughly sequential, but any one of them could stand alone as an essay, for example in a newspaper column. They all will bring back memories and tug the heart of anyone who has walked the Camino de Santiago.
This is a book you can read for pleasure, but certainly one you will want to read after making the journey.