Book Review: The Camino by Shirley MacLaine

If you didn’t know this already, Hopscotch the Globe has an official book club! Each month, avid reader and fellow traveller Trish McNeill will be announcing a travel inspired novel chosen by you to read and review. We will be posting updates on Twitter and Facebook for you to follow along and discuss the novel as we all read through it together. Also, if you have a book you’d like to be the HTG book of the month, let us know by reaching out on social media or comment below. We look forward to having you part of the book club! Last month, we read and review The Art of Travel, this month we read The Camino.

Travel Books that Inspire

While browsing through a quaint little bookstore, I came across Shirley MacLaine’s, The Camino and was immediately drawn towards it. A good friend of mine was, at the time, about halfway through her solo Camino journey, and I took this as a sign that I should read this book and follow in her pilgrimage footsteps.

So yes, I absolutely without a doubt judged this book by its cover and assumed it would be an uplifting and informative read.

I was wrong.

If you’ve read the book, you might take my first paragraph of this review the wrong way. “I took it as a sign,” does not mean, “and then I remembered the life I had lived 7 lives ago and the book opened up and spoke to me about a flower that would guide my soul to spiritual enlightenment.”

I believe my most used phrase while reading this book was, “Huh…?”

Shirley MacLaine’s memoir about her journey along The Camino was… imaginary.

There were many parts of the book that were full of useful information about the walk, ideas on what to pack and what to expect. But, let’s talk about the most important thing here (or at least what Shirley thought to be the most important thing): Shirley.

If you’ve witnessed me reading a book, you’d see fingers clutching greedily at pages, teary eyes being wiped, and often a little hug before putting it down. You would hear sniffles, chuckles, and bouts of uncontrollable cackles (usually while in the most inappropriate places). What you wouldn’t see a lot of is me mishandling a book, bending the pages or staring off into the distance with blank, bored eyes.

The first time I threw this book across the room (yes, the first) was early on in the book when MacLaine told the story about the man who asked her for a ride to his car. As she told it, the man had no shoes, asked for a ride, and after getting into her car he politely inquired about a sexual escapade that the two of them might share.

There was no man. There was no car. It never happened! Her spiritual subconscious, she explained, manifested this story in a way to remind her to not wear a bra… or something.

Naturally, I yelled “GIVE ME A BREAK!” and threw the book across the room.

Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there. I told myself that it would be entertaining to read the ramblings of someone as quirky and ‘out to lunch’ as she seemed to be, so I kept turning pages. I kept rolling my eyes. I kept tossing the book.

Thankfully, my friend who was on the Camino at the time told me about the scenery, the people she met, the drastic changes in weather, and of how she’s still, only now, realizing what an impact it had on her. I’ll take her snippets of conversation over MacLaine’s self-involved eccentricity any day.

What did you think of The Camino?

Share your thoughts about this novel below.

Trish is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer from the East Coast of Canada. Travel lover. Humour finder. Story teller.



  1. Sarah P.
    June 22, 2016 / 9:51 am

    I wasn’t a big fan of this book. I found it really difficult to get through to be honest. I love books that make me laugh especially and this one made me yawn. Have you ever read Holy Cow?

    • June 22, 2016 / 9:53 am

      I read Holy Cow years ago and never laughed so hard over a book. I think that would be a great one for the book club. What do you think?

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