I was recommended this book because of my interest in the Camino and its use of the journey as a frame for looking at a relationship. It is difficult to see the Camino past or through the persona of the author who comes across as alternately needy and pompous. We are reminded often of his military life and his fitness and treated to many snide remarks about fellow pilgrims and openly racist comments about Germans. The journey is not one of anodyne healing and he is left at the end with the same complex feelings for his gifted and difficult daughter who died of AIDS at the age of 29. There are snapshots of the experience of the Camino but, perhaps because it was walked in stages over 4 years, it feels like a jumpy film. His experiences too are often diluted by accounts of his companions and their own varying takes on the experience.
The book feels rushed and would have benefited from editing - even the author acknowledges its repetitiveness with frequent 'as I have mentioned', 'as I've already described' etc so we get a deja-deja vu feeling. There are many little things that could have been corrected or cut such as a reference to 'Hullo' magazine and a beside-the-point rant about the CofE. The final chapters though were moving and direct -and then in a completely unnecessary appendix, the bossy soldier reappears to give recommendations on how to pack for the Camino and advice on changing one's socks. To walk the Camino, you just put one foot in front of the other.
I was sad to learn that Nicholas Luard died relatively young and that this was his last book. Perhaps that accounts for the rushed and grumpy style in which he tells this sad story.