Books of the week
Sunday 18 January 1998
This is the story of Nicholas Luard's pilgrimage from Le Puy in France to Santiago de Compostela, the cathedral town and shrine to St James in north-west Spain.
His journey along the ancient pilgrim path, El Camino, enables him to reflect upon the approaching death of his eldest daughter, Francesca, from Aids-related cancer.
Luard is quick to inform the reader that his story makes no attempt to be a gazetteer or historical guide (as there is already a wealth of literature on the historical legacy of the Camino). He is more interested in understanding what lives there: the interaction of the elements with wild flowers and animals, his strong and magnetic travelling companions, and the various pilgrims and people they meet, from Eduardo the aspiring writer, to the Swiss Inland Revenue cycling group.
Along the way the reader is privy to the very personal insights of a loving father exploring a relationship with his daughter that was complex and often turbulent. We laugh and cry with him, but never do we feel that demands are being made on our sympathy. The Castilians say: "El Camino es una droga," but for Luard, the Camino and his resulting book are a form of catharsis.
The Mini Rough Guide to Madrid (Rough Guides, pounds 5.99) by Simon Baskett.
The latest model off the Rough Guides assembly line is the Mini Guide which, at about five-and-a-half inches by four, fits comfortably into my back pocket and will cater very nicely to the burgeoning city-break market.
Strong features include detailed instructions on how to get into the stadia of Madrid's two big football clubs, as well as fulsome restaurant, bar and hotel reviews - every one of which includes a location reference to the maps at the back of the book.
In terms of appearance, I would call this an improvement on the traditionally austere Rough Guide format, though the trade-off vis-a-vis Lonely Planet's City Guides is as you would expect (cheaper but without the glossy pictures). I haven't checked all the telephone numbers but it is reassuring to know that the author is a resident of Madrid.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...