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Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago Hardcover – Sep 28 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House/Bantam Books (Sept. 28 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385507658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385507653
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #838,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa316aaec) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3191ea0) out of 5 stars Good bookclub book Oct. 18 2004
By pattycakes - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An essential read for anyone who is struggling with grief or regrets, examining religion's place in his or her life, or merely fantasizing about running away to shake things up. With compelling historical and theological background to set the stage for her pilgrimage, the author is refreshingly honest about exposing her own flaws and struggles. Her boyfriend/traveling partner provides comic relief and keeps her from taking herself too seriously as he keeps her on track. I'm buying a few extra copies as gifts for friends so they can understand when I say, "That's exactly how I feel sometimes."
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3197108) out of 5 stars Egan delivers a compelling read. Oct. 28 2004
By Pucky - Published on
Format: Hardcover
At the start, Fumbling reminded me a bit of the travel adventures of Bill Bryson, complete with hilarious situations, interesting factual details, and commentary on the weird and wonderful discovered along the way as Egan travels the Camino trail through Spain. But the travelogue quickly yields to the startlingly honest commentary of a diary as Egan shares with us, bit by bit, the at times shocking events that brought her to her crisis of faith. Egan lightens up the more serious discussions of prayer and faith with humerous anecdotes and a Bridget Jones-esque sense of self-deprivation. This odd combination is tied together by Egan's wonderfully direct and accessible writing style. This soul-baring story will challenge the reader to self-examination while compelling you to keep turning the pages.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3197348) out of 5 stars Incredible Read! Oct. 15 2004
By bob the bob - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A funny, moving memoir that made me laugh but also made me think about my relationship with God. A must read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa31975c4) out of 5 stars Honest, frustrating and eventually rewarding book April 29 2010
By S. Brown - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Cheers to the honesty of the author. She shares her feelings and behaviors with all their warts -- so that I got frustrated with her frustration. I was so sad the Meseta was depressing to her and that she couldn't sense the beauty of the place. Also sad that she so took for granted her companion. Somehow, though, it all made sense by the end (no spoiler here), which made it a worthwhile read. A true happy ending! What makes the book rewarding ultimately is her very honesty. I'm glad she didn't hide her feelings, but just wish she'd been a little more even-tempered as a author/guide/companion as I "walked" the Camino with her.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa31978ac) out of 5 stars Writing at its best. Kerry Egan's Fumbling is a keeper. Dec 1 2004
By Timecheck - Published on
Format: Hardcover
No table of contents, no index, I just had to dive in, but by the end of the first page the imagery of the words had captured me. An excerpt from the second paragraph:

"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.