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Dennett, Laurie.

Forward by R. Roy McMurtry. Toronto, Macmillan, 1987. 252pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0- 7715-9519-0. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Joan Payzant

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March

In this book, Laurie Dennett, a Canadian working as an archivist and business historian in Britain, has written of a thousand-mile pilgrimage she made from Chartres (just outside Paris) to Santiago de Compostela near Spain's west coast. Thousands of pilgrims had walked the same path before her to visit the shrine of St. James the Apostle (Santiago in Spanish). This book is the story of the author's adventures with descriptions of the places she visited en route and the people she met.

Dennett's purpose was to raise funds for research on multiple sclerosis. Her mother is a victim of the disease, which is still far from being conquered. Her walk was publicized by M.S. societies in Canada, the United Kingdom and Spain. Newspapers along her route interviewed her and published her story. At pre-arranged locations she phoned radio station CFRB in Toronto, which broadcast her reports as she progressed. Canada's high commissioner to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, R. Roy McMurtry, endorsed her pilgrimage, and walked with her on her last two days when she entered Santiago.

While I admire the author's courage in undertaking this long, hazardous trek in extreme weather conditions, such as cold rain and baking sunshine, not even the fact that I, too, have had close contact with multiple sclerosis (both a sister and brother of mine are affected) could persuade me to read it with enthusiasm. It is a book for specialized readers rather than for general ones. It does not come alive if one is unfamiliar with the territory, but it would make either an excellent guide for other pilgrims or nostalgic reading for those who have travelled that way before. Other readers with an intense interest in ecclesiastical art and architecture will enjoy Laurie Dennett's descriptions of churches and shrines visited on the pilgrim path (el camino).

I did learn a good deal about the apostle St. James and his symbolic scallop shell, but without actually seeing buildings referred to-and there were dozens of them—I couldn't keep track of which church was where. They are now a jumbled muddle in my mind, and while some tourist books make you want to hop on the next plane, I simply had to push myself 10 go on reading.

The pilgrimage did have worthwhile results as a money raiser for multiple sclerosis research: a total of $90,000 was realized through the author's efforts, and she should be applauded for her courage and tenacity.

Joan Payzant, Dartmouth, N.S.
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