Off The Road

Before I begin my review and you sense my prejudices, let me say that this book is extremely well written. There is an amazing depth and richness to the language that goes beyond any of the other Camino books I have read, in fact, it goes beyond much of today’s fiction. The author’s choice of words, his sentence structure and the inherent imagery is worth the read in itself.

And now for my prejudices. Jack Hitt, a US author, was in his late thirties, when he walked the Camino FranceĀ“s. I feel he lacked, certainly at the start of his book, the empathy of most female authors I have recommended here. The book is well researched, in fact maybe even over-researched. There are tangents about the killing of Roland, the demise of the Knights Templar and the definition of miracles that could be shortened.

That being said, when Jack finally picks up his Camino family, they are a motley crew. Yes, even more motley then any of the “Camino families” in all the other books. There are several amateur film directors, at least one mule, one alcoholic and an assortment of hangers-on.

The author made his pilgrimage in the early 1990s, when infrastructure was thin, so there was a lot of sleeping outdoors and makeshift indoor accommodation. No one romanced the food, although there was a lot of drinking and a lot of arguing even fisty cuffs – definitely not in the spirit of the Camino.

As I have said before, I would recommend this book especially for the precision of its language, the depth of its research and the reality of its description of earlier times on the Camino.

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