Book Review: Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simison and Anne Buist

What’s it about?

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?

(Blurb borrowed from Amazon)

My thoughts

I came to this book having read Graeme Simsion’s other bestseller The Rosie Project, as I imagine most people who’ve read this did. To be honest, it says it on the cover, and his name is in bold black print. This one is written in partnership with his wife, Anne Buist, alternating chapters from the main characters’ points of view.

I enjoyed it! It’s a gentle love story that undulates with the Camino. This could be seen as a bad thing, as the pace might be too pedestrian for some people (boom-boom tish), but a novel about two people walking two thousand kilometres is hardly going to be stuffed with car chases and rocket-propelled grenades. This is a novel for people looking for something calming and hopeful, like chamomile tea in book form.

In terms of the story, I did find it a bit puzzling that Zoe would trek halfway across the world basically equipped for a trip to the shops, but I suppose there had to be some drama somewhere. I found the depiction of the Camino to be lovely. I’ve never done it, nor been to this part of the world, but this story made me want to explore that area more. I’d be very surprised if there aren’t people who have actually ventured out there based on this book, especially if they were in a similar state of emotional turmoil as these two.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, I would. Especially if you’re either on holiday or dreaming of one. Apparently it’s been optioned for a film by Ellen DeGeneres, which should give you an idea of its tone.

Try this if you like:

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist is published by Hodder priced £7.99.

I received an advance copy to review thanks to NetGalley.

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