Synopses & Reviews
His life was a shambles, he felt exhausted by work, his marriage was foundering. So he prepared a backpack, found a walking staff and departed on a 30-day, 500-mile journey along the Camino de Santiago, the route across northern Spain that has been followed by pilgrims for at least a thousand years. He knew what he was fleeing from, not what he was seeking. The Camino would teach him that and many other things. Walking by day, he slept in pilgrims' hospices at night, in boarding houses, in abandoned schools and churches or under the stars. As he moved forward in space, he seemed to be going backwards into time. He went through country where villages and people have barely changed since the Middle Ages, landscapes that James Michener has called the best in Spain and some of the finest in the world. Although he began his trip alone, Edward F. Stanton soon discovered that pilgrimage means fellowship as well as solitude: his journey coincided with the modern revival of the Camino de Santiago. Along the way he met a Spanish astrologer who taught him to find his own rhythm in walking, the abbess of a convent who offered him sage advice for the road, a pair of French women in search of a new life, peasants and shepherds with the knowledge of centuries. Road of Stars to Santiago is a beautifully written story that blends personal experience with folklore, legend, the wisdom of old chronicles and canny observations of life in modern Spain. It is at once a travel memoir, a picaresque adventure, a modern quest, a rite of passage and initiation into what has been called "the premier cultural route of Europe".
In the tradition of Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time and William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, Edward F. Stanton has written a quietly beautiful and engrossing account of his own pilgrimage. Road of Stars to Santiago is a personal story of his journey along what has been called "the premier cultural route of Europe."
"I undertook a five-hundred-mile walk along the ancient Camino de Santiago, from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostella in northwest Spain, the supposed burial site of the apostle St. James the Elder, and beyond to Finisterre, Land's End on the Atlantic coast.
"On my journey I followed the old road whenever possible, passing through mountains, medieval forests and remote villages, as well as modern towns and cities. I slept in fields, abandoned schools or wherever I could, on a thirty-day trip that brought me into contact with a whole cross-section of Spanish society, and with pilgrims from France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and England.
"Most of the book has to do with my own trials and joys on the Road: the physical struggle to walk about twenty miles a day in the heat or rain, to find a place to eat and sleep; with the psychological changes that take place when one leaves home, family and routine; with the contradictions inherent to a pilgrimage in the late twentieth centuiy; with experiences that ranged from the spiritual to the picaresque; with the people I met on the way -- from shepherds and peasan ts to astrologers and philosophers. There are plenty of humorous situations and unexpected turns."
-- Edward F. Stanton