Sunday, 12 November 2017

Shadows, Shells, and Spain by John Meyer



If you love travel and history with plenty of drama told with a twist of humour then this book is for you.

John Meyer takes the reader on a long, but never boring, walk with characters that you will love, be irritated by and laugh at.

Jamie Draper has travelled to Mallorca to try to find his estranged wife, Pam. He receives a letter from her telling him if he wants to understand her and her reasons for leaving he needs to walk the Camino. As he walks the trail he follows her clues to find further letters.

The Camino de Santiago in Spain is a walking trail followed by pilgrims for over a thousand years. It is a spiritual journey for those seeking inner strength and wisdom.



I loved both of the main characters, Jamie and Brie, who he meets on the trail and has her own issues and reasons for walking the Camino. Early in the book I thought Pam’s reasons for leaving Jamie were selfish ones. My attitude to her as the story progresses becomes softer and I become more in sympathy with her.

Meyer’s descriptive writing gives the reader clear images of the Camino scenery as well as the historic buildings and monuments. You will also feel the pain, the joy and the camaraderie of the Peregrinos (those who walk the Camino) along the route.

The journey by Jamie, Brie and the other Peregrinos is interspersed with history, legends and travel snippets - a kind of early history meets modern tourism. If you are not into history don’t worry, it is told with humour and, at times, healthy scepticism.

Brie has to get Jamie’s story in slices, along with finding accommodation, food and sightseeing, and so does the reader. The last 100 pages or so, as Jamie starts to find out what happened with Pam really push the reader on to finish. The story alternates between Jamie’s revelations, descriptions of the trail and the history snippets. It was a book I just had to get to the end. My apologies to family and friends I was rude to telling them to go away so I could finish the book.

Shadows, Shells, and Spain is the second of Meyer’s fictional travel memoirs I have read. The other one was Bulls, Bands and London that I gave 4*. I think this is better and that is why it gets 5* from me.