Review

Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist

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Published:William Morrow
Date: May 1st 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction
Source: Publicist via Edelweiss


Goodreads callout

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Rosie Projectcomes a story of taking chances and learning to love again as two people, one mourning her husband and the other recovering from divorce, cross paths on the centuries-old Camino pilgrimage from France to Spain.

 

Zoe, an artist from California who’s still reeling from her husband’s sudden death, has impulsively decided to walk the Camino, hoping to find solace and direction. Martin, an engineer from England, is road-testing a cart of his own design…and recovering from a messy divorce. They begin in the same French town, each uncertain of what the future holds. Zoe has anticipated the physical difficulties of her trek, but she is less prepared for other challenges, as strangers and circumstances force her to confront not just recent loss, but long-held beliefs. For Martin, the pilgrimage is a test of his skills and endurance but also, as he and Zoe grow closer, of his willingness to trust others—and himself—again.

 

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I have heard about the Camino walk because a friend’s husband walked much of it, I heard an interview about it on the radio by another person who walked it, so when Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist presented itself, I opened it and started reading with interest.  I have no desire to walk it myself but I was very happy to vicariously experience it this way.

It is described in acknowledgements at the end of the book as a mature-age love story, and it is, but so much more. It is about challenge – physical challenge for sure, ouch all that walking and all those blisters.  The challenge of being by yourself, facing difficulties sometimes in life or death situations. The challenge of walking with others and hitting off them and sometimes eventually losing your sharp edges.

The walk is an invitation to go inwards and discover who you are, what you are made of? It gives you a change to examine your life so far, the emotions, the things facing you now. It breaks you open, it questions you.

There are two main characters – each chapter alternatively told between Martin and Zoe.  I came to love them both and to be honest it was with regret that I closed the book and let them go.  I loved how Zoe really came into herself, it was wonderful to watch. Martin took a little longer but the lessons he learned so important and most likely apply to us all.

There were many other pilgrims along the way, as well those who ran the hostels and places where the pilgrims stayed. The description of the walk was very real, the places so well described. As both authors have walked the walks of Zoe and Martin it rang with authenticity.

I started this book with a little caution, I finished it with a gratefulness for the experience.

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