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 by John Meyer is a perfect cocktail of travel, adventure, and mystery.
Jamie Draper is completely lost when his wife suddenly leaves him. He quits his job and goes to Mallorca to find her. After a few months, he receives a letter from his wife asking him to walk along ancient Camino trail across northern Spain. Now, Jamie is all set to follow the trail of letters left by his wife along the walk to know why she did what she did.
The journey to the Camino de Santiago is described beautifully. He evokes visual imagery of the places through his language. Relevant historical details are added to provide context. The pace of the book is just right. It keeps you on the edge of your seat thinking what would happen next. Different characters are introduced at various points of times which makes the reading all the more interesting. All of the characters are developed astoundingly. The plot of the book is its biggest advantage and the author has done full justice to it. He maintained an element of mystery throughout the narrative.
This is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2017.
In a nutshell, pick up this book if you want to read fiction, drama, romance, mystery all cooped up in 300 pages.
Shadows, Shells, and Spain is a literary fiction novel written by John Meyer. While others basked in the sun and warmth of Palma, Jamie was indifferent to the charms of Mallorca. He had been searching for his wife for ten months now, with no word from her or her insufferable mother to help him understand why she had left, where she was, and when she would come home again. Pam had often spoken longingly of vacations on tropical islands, and Mallorca had been a recurring theme, so when her mother hinted that Spain may have been her destination, Jamie dropped everything and traveled to Mallorca. He was sharing an apartment with another ex-pat, tutoring Spanish speakers in English to make ends meet, and pounding the streets each day looking for the clues that would lead him to his wife. Then, suddenly, a breakthrough. He stopped by The English Book Shop to see if the proprietor, English Rob, had any new clients to refer to him, when Rob handed him a package. It had actually been sitting in the dusty book shop for some months now, forgotten until that morning. In it was a letter from his mother-in-law and, nestled inside the package, a smaller envelope containing a letter from Pam.
Shadows, Shells, and Spain stood out from the nonfictional travel memoirs I’ve read about the Camino by virtue of it being a novel, rather than nonfiction. As I sat down to read it, I wondered how it would differ from those remarkable memoirs I’ve read in the past. I’ve long been fascinated by the Camino, the Appalachian Mountain Trail and the Pacific Coast Trails, and by the fortunate souls who find a way to extricate themselves from the clutches of modern life and responsibility, and set off to find themselves on the trail. Meyer’s Jamie was an exception to the rule in that his reason for being on the Camino was external, was in effect forced upon him by Pam, and my affection and admiration for this lost soul was immediately and immeasurably enhanced as he took on the challenge of a month-long pilgrimage.
Anyone who has hiked the Camino, or been an armchair traveler and hiked perched upon others’ shoulders, will delight in Shadows, Shells, and Spain. There’s still the camaraderie, the spirit of the Camino which shimmers on every page of this compelling tale, but there’s more. Meyer’s own experiences on the Camino and his love of history combine to make this one of the more authentic Camino reads yet. I loved reading about the history of the Camino and each of the little towns Jamie walks through, and found myself sitting with a map of the Camino on my laptop, tracing his journey as I learned more about Spanish history than I thought possible. Jamie’s search for his wife, who’s always, tantalizingly, one step ahead is stunning in its simplicity and single-minded focus, and his Camino may indeed prove to be everything Pam had hoped it would be for him. Pilgrimages have been the source of fascination, magic and mystery since The Canterbury Tales ignited readers’ imaginations, and this tale continues that spellbinding tradition. Shadows, Shells, and Spain is most highly recommended.
Literary Titan Book Award - Silver Award Winner