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Description - Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion

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, 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. But can these two very different people find each other? In this smart, funny and romantic journey, Martin's and Zoe's stories are told in alternating chapters by husband-and-wife team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist. Two Steps Forward is a novel about renewal - physical, psychological and spiritual. It's about the challenge of walking an extraordinary distance and of working out where you are going. And it's about what you decide to keep, what you choose to leave behind and what you rediscover.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781925498776
ISBN-10: 1925498778
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 154mm x 27mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: The Text Publishing Company
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Publish Date: 2-Oct-2017
Country of Publication: Australia

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Book Review: Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion - Reviewed by (22 Sep 2017)

5 stars

Two Steps Forward is a novel written by Australian husband and wife author team, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist. When Zoe and Martin arrive in France, neither of them does so with the Camino de Santiago in mind. Engineer, Dr Martin Eden has just gone through an acrimonious divorce, giving up his home and job for a temporary teaching position in Cluny. An aspiring artist whose fledgling career was aborted by marriage and the birth of her two (now adult) daughters, Zoe Witt is a recent widow. Her husband’s sudden death brought some unpleasant surprises and she’s in Cluny looking up a college friend while she comes to terms with her grief and life’s new realities.

Somewhat uncomfortable with her friend’s matchmaking efforts, and feeling the need for solitude, Zoe surprises herself with a decision to walk the Chemin from Cluny to the Spanish border. Martin’s impetus is far from spiritual: after a chance encounter with a Dutch pilgrim, he is going to road-test a pilgrim cart he has designed and hopes to sell; in fact, needs to sell as he is jobless, homeless and penniless! And with a seventeen-year-old daughter about to attend university.

As their paths cross and recross, American Zoe and British Martin, along with a bunch of Brazilians, Germans and other Americans, go (despite some friction and/or frisson) from strangers to a camaraderie (and occasionally, something more) that seems not uncommon with those sharing this life-changing experience.

There’s plenty of humour in the dialogue and the interactions between characters: miscommunications, misunderstandings and omissions of the whole truth, as well as a bit of (almost) slapstick comedy add to the enjoyment. The male and female voices are well rendered, and the story also illustrates the wide spectrum of pilgrims attracted to Camino, with their myriad of reasons for walking.

Buist and Simsion give the reader a tale about a group of ordinary people with ordinary life problems who discover that often best advice comes from strangers whose perspective is not coloured by emotions. The “spiritual journey” aspect is well handled, never becoming overwhelming or heavy on “message” but still given enough gravitas to be thought-provoking. The only things missing from this delightful novel are the images of Zoe’s cartoons and Martin’s cart. Very entertaining!


Author Biography - Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion is the internationally bestselling author of The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect and The Best of Adam Sharp. Anne Buist is chair of Women's Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and author of the Natalie King psychological thrillers. They live together in Melbourne.

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