The Chocolate Pilgrim

A Journey to Self-discovery and Transformation on the Camino de Santiago

Non-Fiction - Memoir
271 Pages
Reviewed on 01/11/2018
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Author Biography

Marie has been writing ever since she could make pencil squiggles on paper. She has an abiding curiosity and desire to explore, whether it’s inner landscapes through journal writing or walking ancient trails in Europe.
Marie’s creative memoir recounts the ordinary and the extraordinary moments of her Camino walk across northern Spain. The steady pace required each day prompted surprising insights and memories to surface. Healing came in unexpected places.
After the Camino, Marie realized that her life is a pilgrimage. Good quality dark chocolate always fuels her travels. She has followed a path to reclaim her voice and love her words. She is now a midwife for writers, supporting the birth of words and stories.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite

The Chocolate Pilgrim: A Journey to Self-Discovery and Transformation on the Camino de Santiago by Marie Maccagno is a beautifully written, emotionally intense, and intimately personal account of a month-long trek across Spain by Maccagno, her husband, and their adult son in the spring of 2009. The title refers to her use of dark chocolate as a trail snack, and their following a popular Catholic route, although this wasn’t undertaken as a religious pilgrimage. After discussing the “bucket list” origins of the trek and the planning and training that went into preparing for it, each chapter covers the family’s day by day experiences on their Camino journey. Maccagno describes in flowing, descriptive narrative the sights, sounds, people, lodgings and food they encountered along the way, including their later decision to take part of the journey by bus to enjoy the experience better. Even so, they walked over 650 km (over 400 miles) and finished at Finisterre on the coast of Spain. A link provides the reader with several photographs.

Although the path of The Chocolate Pilgrim is overlaid on the Camino route map and much of the narrative addresses the trek, that is secondary to the theme of Maccagno’s journey of emotional self-discovery and personal transformation. Through flashbacks to her childhood and the earlier years of her marriage and motherhood, she bares her heart and soul about her struggles with self-identity, self-worth, and family relationships. For me, these frank reflections were often very painful to read, especially those related to her violent childhood, but these are part of who she is and what she has had to overcome. Her decision to walk the Camino proves to be life-changing. Well worth reading.