Two Steps Forward
Two Steps Forward by husband and wife team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist was an uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable novel. Though completely different from Simsion’s “Rosie” series it contained a number of my favorite elements. For example the writing was engaging so that once started I didn’t want to stop reading, the characters were likeable, the story well executed and the setting interesting. Having walked the Chemin/Camino themselves – from Cluny in France to Santiago DE Compostela in Spain – not once but twice (2038 km & 1900 km respectively) they clearly wrote what they knew (and Loved) and I found it inspiring.
A walk of that magnitude must surely provide ample opportunity for contemplation and that was precisely what our fictional, middle aged pilgrims required. Zoe, recently widowed intended to use the time to deal with her grief but found that as the miles unfolded she had the capacity to let go of long held animosity towards her mother, and religion by association. Martin intended to use the walk to launch a new business venture but he too found himself dealing from afar with the fallout of a recent nasty divorce and the implications of that upon his teenage daughter. Along the way, these two strangers provided each other with companionship and support, and left the door open to the potential for something more in future. I felt this aspect of the story was lovely, and was handled realistically without being overly sentimental.
Yes there was a heavy emphasis on the walk (which incidentally I’m now inspired to do) but it was so much more. Ultimately it seemed to be about forgiveness – of self and others. Of accepting responsibility for your own actions, of forgiving yourself for your own mistakes and trying to push past regrets in an effort to move forward as a better person. Quite fitting really when the original pilgrims walked to find God, seek forgiveness or give thanks.
Whilst on the topic I’d like to add my thanks to the authors for a job well done, to Harper Collins publishers for this Advance Readers e-proof, and of course Net Galley for making that possible.