Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Ann Buist @GraemeSimsion @TwoRoadBooks

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Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist  Two Road Books April 5th 2018

Zoe, a sometime artist, is from California. Martin, an engineer, is from Yorkshire. Both have ended up in picturesque Cluny, in central France. Both are struggling to come to terms with their recent past – for Zoe, the death of her husband; for Martin, a messy divorce.

Looking to make a new start, each sets out alone to walk two thousand kilometres from Cluny to Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain, in the footsteps of pilgrims who have walked the Camino (the Way) for centuries. The Camino changes you, it’s said. It’s a chance to find a new version of yourself, and a new beginning. But can these two very different people find themselves? Will they find each other?

My review

Martin and Zoe flee to France, each have totally differing reasons. Martin is fleeing the aftermath of a divorce and Zoe the sudden death of her husband.

On impulse both decide to do the famous Camino trail of the pilgrims. Martin to test out his cart design that may be bought and produced by a company and Zoe, to find herself.

This is the story of two people who have lost their way in life. Its is a story of the people they meet along the way and what they discover about themselves. Its is also a love story, of two people who meet,  are mutually attracted to each other, but events and themselves conspire to pull them apart.

The story is narrated in alternating chapters, each author owning a character, Simsion, Martin and Buist, Zoe. This could be a recipe for disaster with chapters that could appear quite separate, not seeming to fit together, but not so. The technique actually enhances the novel giving each character its own distinct voice.

Martin, bumbling along, removing himself from home to spare his daughter the pain of being caught in the middle of two divorced parents, thinking she would be happier without him.

Zoe, traumatised and shocked by the sudden death of her husband, unaware of the financial predicament he has left them in,her two grown up daughters bemused at her flight to France, insisting she return to sort out her life.

When the characters do meet you can sense their fear at opening up to each other, not helped by the interference of other characters and certain misunderstandings.

The characters they meet as they walk are hugely entertaining. The young German engineer, the Brazilians and the mother and daughter walking in honour of their deceased husband/father make the novel more than just about Martin and Zoe.

The descriptions of the little towns and villages, the mountainous routes and the stunning scenery add that extra dimension. The vivid imagery is lovely giving the reader a real feel for the conditions and landscape.

Over the course of three months and 2038km Martin and Zoe slowly begin the healing process, slowly realise what they want and what they need to do. It is a heartwarming novel, that left me with a tear in my eye and a warm feeling.

The novel has already been optioned for film by Fox Searchlight and it will be interesting to see who is cast in the lead roles!

Thank you to Two Road books for the opportunity to read and reveiw.

About the authors

Graeme and Anne

Graeme Simsion is the internationally bestselling author of The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Effect and The Best of Adam SharpAnne Buist is chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and author of the psychological thrillers, Medea’s CurseDangerous to Know and This I Would Kill For. /
@GraemeSimsion / @anneebuist

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