A story of mid-life and second chances from Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project, and his wife Anne Buist
Soon to be a film produced by Ellen DeGeneres
Two misfits walk 2,000 kilometres along the Camino de Santiago to find themselves and, perhaps, each other along the way.
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 a long 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.
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.