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What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim: A Midlife Misadventure on Spain's Camino de Santiago

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  479 ratings  ·  97 reviews
To celebrate her 50th birthday and face the challenges of mid-life, Jane Christmas joins 14 women to hike the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Despite a psychic’s warning of catfights, death, and a sexy, fair-haired man, Christmas soldiers on. After a week of squabbles, the group splinters and the real adventure begins. In vivid, witty style, she recounts her battles with ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 28th 2007 by Greystone Books (first published September 1st 2007)
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A Million Steps by Kurt KoontzThe Pilgrimage by Paulo CoelhoA Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John BrierleyBehind the Albergue Door by Dean JohnstonThe Camino by Shirley Maclaine
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23rd out of 59 books — 44 voters
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4th out of 33 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

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What a disservice this does to the Camino experience. First of all, please stop whining - what did you think when you elected to walk several hundred kilometers across Northern Spain? Secondly, get your facts right - there are a number of errors of fact about the history, language and culture of the Camino (this annoyed me not so much because I'm a stickler but because it's lazy writing - the information is widely available). Third, stop woman bashing - a person is difficult, whiny, stubborn, ch ...more
Just finished walking from Burgos to Ponferrado with one taxi ride when my 17 year old daughter was too sick to walk. We were part of an Anglican church group of eight. I am also just a year shy of fifty and have three children 15, 17 and 21. My oldest daughter invited me to join the group with her when she had only one course left to finish high school and a very accommodating biology teacher. So we added mother/daughter dynamics to our walk. I found I empathized with the author in many ways: t ...more
Nikki Bouchier
If this book didn't already have me at it's title, then it certainly had me in the first paragraph: "Impulse is intuition on Crack. If Intuition is the prudent angel who carefully directs your spirit, then Impulse is its mischief-making twin. The "imp in impulse."

I want to start by saying that you shouldn't read this book as a travel guide. If you're thinking of going on the voyage then do it! Don't let this persons experience taint your reality. She didn't mean it as a travel guide, she meant
Virginia Pulver
I walked the Camino myself in Apr/May 2009. I've read widely about the Camino and I've read many books about it (both before my own pilgrimage and afterwards). I kept thinking this book would get better, but when I finished my read, I literally tossed the book across the room. I was disappointed. I would not recommend this Camino book to others. I enjoy humor, but it just did not come across in this book. Nor were there any redeeming factors...just a lot of superficial whining. There are some ve ...more
Rochelle Bugeja Magri
The writing itself hooks you as it is smart, funny and gripping, however, the camino experience as told by the author was highly off-putting to me, in view of the pessimistic approach conveyed. Being a resident of Spain, I was somewhat disappointed at how little the author seemed to appreciate the Spanish culture and temperament and the idyllic beauty of the typical ancient villages, or at least her appreciation thereof did not come across vividly in the book. Suffice it to say, I count it as a ...more
After reading some of the comments on Goodreads I was prepared to give this book a pass but I am really pleased that I gave it my own read. I have been intrigued with Spain's Camino for several years now and have spoken with pilgrims, read and watched different works. Each provides it's own interesting perspective.
Jane is a voice that I connected with as the thought of having a group of women join me on such an undertaking has absolutely no interest to me. This was reinforced after attending a
May 14, 2009 John rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: travel
Balanced writing - informal without being obnoxious.
Deborah Gray
I don't actually have any plans to walk the Camino, so I came to this book with no preconceived notions. I didn't expect a travel guide; I expected a memoir. It didn't disappoint. Jane's 500 mile midlife walk of the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) included hiking up the Pyrenees and a personal and seemingly unvarnished account of a range of encounters, beautiful and mundane scenery, difficult personalities, sweet strangers, deprivation and physical challenges. Interspersed with cafe con le ...more

"A pilgrim life is largely an artificial one; you exist in a bubble of camaraderie, pain, & poverty of shared purpose. " Jane sums up her experience in that statement very nicely. Her dismay of the church celebration in Santiago reminded me of a procession in Italy; the adornment of money and garish parading is quite the contrast to the individual whom the celebration is dedicated to; here it is St. James. St James was a humble servant of God. The walk could be anywhere but unfortunately th
Kyle Sonnabend-liberty
Absolutely loved reading this book and reminiscing last year walking the Camino de Santiago.
I am walking on the Camino in two months (only part of it!), so I was interested in what this Canadian author had to say. It's a humorous account and quite honest. I see there are a number of criticisms of the author by other Goodreads readers, but I think it takes courage to say frankly (knowing it may not be politically correct)how you react to situations and people. It's true she whined sometimes and was not always tolerant of others, but I appreciated her honesty. It gave me an enjoyable rea ...more
LOVED this book, particularly the author's honesty about her experiences on the Camino. A few reviewers have given her short shrift because of the "woman-bashing" but, having traveled with women myself (not to mention being in an all-female office which is even worse) I can completely relate to the author's experiences. In my opinion - as a woman myself - she wasn't "bashing", she was just being honest. Her "moaning and groaning" was not a lot different to other Camino accounts I have read. The ...more
Aug 18, 2008 Jane added it
Recommends it for: Angie, Leigh, Naomi
Recommended to Jane by: picked up at Book People
Angie because she actually walked the Camino.

Leigh, because many years ago, before kids, we promised that we'd do this pilgrimage.

Naomi, because of all my friends, she's the most likely to take a psychic's words seriously.

I liked this book more as I went along. At first, I was just irritated by the author's tone that 50 is so old - since I'm 45 and don't feel at all old, I was peeved, but she quit that after a while and just went on with her story.
It's on my list to do the Camino, so I like to read other people's take on the journey.

I enjoyed this book immensely. I can't imagine going on a long hike with a bunch of women, I know my limit for being friendly with that same people is about 4 days...I would have the Hag Tag on my backpack for the rest of the trip if I had gone with them!

The reasons for doing the Camino is different for everyone and I'm sure that the toll of hiking would make anyone an emotional basketcase. She was a little wh
Well naturally I had to read this book!
With my own Camino experience still very fresh I was eager to read of another person's journey.
Jane did her Camino about 10 years ago and I think many things have changed since then. She was also 10 years younger than I and single.
I read her book with my Camino guide beside me so that I could compare places and remind myself of what and where I had been.
I found her experiences to be much more traumatic than mine. She had full refugios, grumpy people and
I really enjoyed this book - from a travel literature perspective. And also perhaps because I had only heard bad reviews about it. And it appears to have some good facts on actually walking the el camino. Now - if this was my book - please let me not sound so pathetic.
I have never walked the Camino de Santiago but arfter reading this book I feel as though I have to some degree. I have a friend to walked the Camino in May and I also saw and loved the movie The Way so have heard stories that match what I read in this book and also the movie provided images that match what I read here as well. What I like about Jane Christmas is her no-holds-barred writing about her experiences and her emotions.

There is whining in this book, but there should be if a writer is be
also read this..good for travelogue,but she still whines about everything..grow up!!
Much of the first (~)half of the book comes down, I think, to lack of communication and wildly different expectations: the author wants a spiritual hike across Spain, with the added bonus of making some new friends. The 'new friends' want (collectively; obviously there's variation) a group bonding experience, with the author as their facilitator, and a sightseeing trek on the side.

It's pretty clear from the outset that it's not a match made in heaven, and that heavily colours the author's accoun
2.5 stars. Bought it because I'm intrigued by the idea of walking the Camino (which a friend of mine did, so I got some 1st hand information there as well).

It's a quick and easy read. Entertaining at times but, as others have pointed out already, also whiney. Some of the women group dynamics is interesting (but yes, might be a personality not a gender thing). Some of the history information I found interesting but someone else said in the comments that obviously Christmas didn't do her research
Glyn Longden
Rating: 5.5/10. SPOILER ALERT!

A 50 yr. old Canadian woman takes on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. 800 km. on foot, at least mostly on foot. The psychic part of the title refers to predictions made to the author before leaving for Spain. In fact, all the psychic's predictions come true. If you're thinking that this sounds interesting and something you might enjoy reading, let me say I thought exactly the same thing.

Christmas' story is an interesting one; but the rea
Robin Massey
I wonder whether it was Jane’s idea to portray her book in this way: the title alluding to a psychic and the blurb mentioning ‘cat fights’ with a ‘mob’ of women, or were these ideas pushed by the marketing people? Not the way I’d set out to portray my companions if I was a writer.

Anyway, leaving that aside, this is an enjoyable book, especially if interested in reading about, or walking, the Camino. (If this describes you, please take a look at my review of Unholy Pilgrims and my page Ten Remark
Apr 19, 2013 Dianne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
This is the second "Camino" book I've read and it's the one I was looking for. It begins in France where the authour begins her pilgrimage and ends in Santiago de Compostela, where pilgrims finish their trek and pick up certificates confirming they've done it. This is the realistic story of life on the trail with all it's beauty and ugliness, the great people and the jerks, the thrill and the heartbreak. It's most assuredly the closest I'll ever get to actually experiencing the real thing.

What I
An odd duck of a book--not at all what I was expecting.

I normally love travel narratives. The trick to travel narrative writing is, however, finding a cohesive and natural-feeling thesis for the text. Some writers are better at this than others. Paul Theroux is a genius travel writer.

Christmas is not--unless you count complaining and criticism is the way she binds the journey together. She begins the trip as a way to find purpose to her middle-life, and ends the trip no further ahead. Along th
I enjoyed this book. It's about one woman's trek along the Camino de Santiago. Her experience was interesting and there were one or two humorous episodes. I was sad to read that she didn't find or seemed not to want to find some spirituality in the trek as most pilgrims do. Also, her glib and derogatory remarks about St. James and the Catholic Church grated on my nerves. Do authors have to denigrate religions? I enjoyed the read and think it would be interesting to anyone who wanted to walk the ...more
Kel Christensen
I hoped to read this faster. Like most books, my life takes up more space than my reading...but I enjoyed the humor here. If you are younger than 40 this book may disinterest you as the author clearly has more challenges than the fit class that jog this route on a vegan diet or some ridiculous sports goal. I rather liked her honest understanding of her self-limitations at the time, it was a tough trek, and worth the ardor. She came to terms with herself on many fronts and found strength.No longe ...more
A quick and funny read, finished it in half a day (ok I skimmed a couple of sections but it's not a demanding book). One of the funniest lines: "The Camino was beginning to strike me as a spiritual exercise for those who liked their spirituality with a side order of whips." The book left me with a sense of how hard and demanding the Camino is and how addicted people get to what it can offer. The one thing that did bother me was the author's woman bashing, of her companions....I found it tedious ...more
I wanted this to be better. Loved the subject matter - walking the Camino trail is such a monumental achievement - and loved how she didn't spare herself when she knocked almost everything about the journey, but I felt there should have been a more solid ending. It just kind of petered out.
A friend recommended I read this book when I was stressed about organising an event for a group of women. It has been an education.
There are several poor reviews of What the Psychic.... but for me it is one of those books that I feel I have actually experienced. It might be because I read a lot of the story on holiday in a Catholic country, it might be because of that event I was planning, I don't know. What I do know is that the story is written in an honest, lively style that makes you care ab
Engaging, witty, easy-to-read: I still want to take Jane aside and teach her how to properly plan an overseas adventure. (Hint: figure out how you're going to get from the airport to your destination BEFORE you arrive.)
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