No Dark Nights of the Soul: 60 And Solo On The Camino De Compostela by Kay Smith

60 and Solo on The Camino de Santiago de Compostela by Kay Smith is a novelty among the Camino memoirs I have read thus far: a peregrina with no personal insights or problems to grapple with on The Way. Neither the surrounds, the walking, the people, lingering thoughts of her life, nor her health have, as per her writing, a major emotional nor psychological effect. I have read several ebooks and blogs from non-religious seniors and all were vastly more interesting. There is little of the fear and vulnerability that make up an element of humanity that writers generally struggle with on The Camino present in this memoir. As such, it does not make for very interesting reading.

The entire book could be summed as a postcard – “Having a great time, wish you were here!”. The writer presents herself as strong in her abilities and sense of self. Judging from the maps of ground covered per day she is a fine walker for any age and takes blisters, dodgy auberges, great food and new friendships alike with a brisk, unintellectual cheeriness.

She’s creeped out by Catholicism, doesn’t understand the purpose of Franciscan monasticism, generally dislikes churches, and decides to abort her few attempts to argue with a few of the spiritually incline co-walkers. However she labels some helpful pilgrims with the New-Age “Angel” sobriquet. She ends her memoir prior to attending the mass with the swinging Botafumeiro in Santiago.

The author is a former teacher and writes with a very casual, email style as would suit young teens: capitalized words, ellipses, numerous exclamation marks, LOLs and OMGs abound. Almost appropriately, the author manages to form a clique of friendly walkers on the first day with an acronym of their home nations! Yet by the end I had gained little insight into her person.

The only real note of interest are the included snippets of maps from the infamous Brierley guide. I wonder if permission to reprint these effect the pricing, because the book is also almost prohibitively expensive for its quality. Over 9 Australian dollars for an book I read in probably hour and a half in snippets during an airport layover is, I think, asking too much.

For the reason of cost, as well as the quality of the writing, if I were a ranking person I’d give this 1.5/5.

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