Camino Book Review – Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist

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Before I begin, let me just state that I am not a professional reviewer or journalist. I am just the everywoman writing about why I liked this book. I am a singing teacher with a Masters in music education and have more recent training in discussing theories on child psychology, educational sociology and a dash of philosophical aesthetics thrown in for good measure. But I like to write and I like to read and thought this might be a helpful resource for other every(wo)man looking for Camino books.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, this book is due to become a movie and is being produced by Ellen De Generes. It is not just a gentle and uplifting romance novel, but also a novel of self-exploration and -understanding through the medium of walking the Camino from Cluny to St Jean Pied de Port via Le Puy, along the Pyrenees and finally hooking onto the Camino de Norte to Santiago de Compostela (around 2000km).

The chapters alternate between the first-person narrators, Martin and Zoe. Originally, their story was written as two manuscripts. Inspired by the authors’ own journey to Santiago via the described route, Zoe’s story was written by Buist and Martin’s was written by Simsion. Later, they combined their manuscripts, cut them down and edited them into one book.

In the story, Zoe is an American, recently widowed and Martin is an English engineer whose contract is coming to an end in France – a job he took to remove himself from the aftermath of a toxic divorce. He leaves England so as to not further damage his teenage daughter who is caught up in the middle of her parents’ vitriolic battle. However, instead of heading back to the UK at the end of his contract, he takes to the Way to demonstrate the efficacy of his prototype hiking wagon and hopes to secure a buyer for its design.

These two meet briefly in Cluny where they begin their walks and are dogged by misunderstands along the way until they eventually have to reassess themselves and each other.

As stated, I loved this book. The narrators and people they meet along their journey feel authentic and relatable. I almost missed a few tube stops, so immersed was I in their struggles and adventures. It is a graceful read and very well written. It will be interesting to see what the movie does with the story and who they will cast.

Click on this link to see book

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