Three years after life got in the way of their long-distance relationship, Californian illustrator Zoe and English engineer Martin have an unexpected opportunity to reunite: a second chance to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims in Europe.
This time, they won’t be walking the famous Camino de Santiago to north-west Spain but the less-travelled Chemin d’Assise and Via Francigena to Rome, the mountainous path down from rural France.
And rather than each setting off solo, they will accompany Zoe’s old friend Camille—who, despite her terminal illness, insists she will walk the whole sixteen hundred kilometres to seek an audience with the Pope—and her not-so-ex-husband, Gilbert, who sees the trip as a gourmet tour. Then Bernhard, Martin’s young nemesis from the previous trek, shows up, along with Martin’s daughter, Sarah, who is having a quarter-life crisis and doesn’t exactly hit it off with Zoe…
Two Steps Onward is the wise, witty and wine-filled follow-up to Two Steps Forward, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist’s bestselling novel about walking the Camino. It’s about helping the people you love, and knowing when to let go. Figuring out what you really want in life. And seizing your chances, before it’s too late.
Graeme Simsion is the internationally bestselling author of The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect and The Rosie Result, as well as Don Tillman’s Standardized Meal System and The Best of Adam Sharp.
Anne Buist is the author of the psychological thrillers Dangerous to Know, Medea’s Curse, This I Would Kill For and The Long Shadow. She is Professor of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne.
‘[An] entertaining and refreshingly unpredictable romance.’ Sydney Morning Herald on Two Steps Forward
‘Charming and absorbing.’ Daily Mail on Two Steps Forward
Buist (Medea's Curse) and Simsion (The Rosie Project) collaborate on this uneven dual-protagonist story about a California widow and a divorced Brit who find one another on the Chemin, a spiritual walking route that winds through France and Spain. After losing her second husband, Keith, to what she suspects was a suicide, 45-year-old mom Zoe Witt takes up her old pal Camille's invitation to visit her in France. Zoe learns about the Chemin and participates on a whim, despite her aversions to the walk's religious origins (she was raised Roman Catholic, but has been at odds with her faith since her mother disowned her for taking her friend to get an abortion in college). Martin Eden, 52, is an engineering professor who thinks the Chemin will be a good way to test a new cart design from which he hopes to profit. He is also still smarting from the fact that his ex-wife cheated on him with his boss. Zoe and Martin get the wrong impression of one another at first, and then over and over again. The will-they-or-won't-they tension grows old fast as miscommunications keeps them from consummating their affections a shame since their love story is the least interesting part of the novel. Their interactions with fellow travelers from around the world, as well as their own fraught histories Zoe's with the Church, Martin with his teen daughter, Sarah are the true highlights. Though readers may not fall in love with the central romance, they'll appreciate everything else. \n
The central theme took a long to be articulated
The characters are uninteresting and unpleasant. The narrative is flat and one dimensional. The book goes no where. Characters are supposed to be exploring deep issues but the handling is superficial. The ending is pedestrian. The book alternates between Zoe and Martin but it is hard to distinguish between each narrative.