Title: Two Steps Forward
Authors: Anne Buist and Graeme Simsion
A charming romantic comedy set on the Camino Trail, Two Steps Forward is told in alternating chapters between the voices of Martin, an engineer from Yorkshire, and Zoe, an artist from California. Both are struggling with hurt and bereavement in their lives. Martin is in the midst of a messy divorce, and trying to rebuild his relationship with his teenage daughter. Zoe’s husband has recently died, leaving her exhausted in mind and body, and not sure how to go on in her life alone.
The couple first meet in Cluny, France, and each decide independently to walk the ancient pilgrims’ way to Santiago in north-western Spain. Their paths cross and part and cross again, along with those of various eccentric and sometimes exasperating minor characters.
The tone is light and amusing, with running jokes about Zoe’s difficulty in eating vegan food and Martin’s struggle to learn to take advice, but along the way deeper issues emerge. Each must learn a few lessons about life and their own inner demons before they are ready to embrace a relationship together.
Their story is told in alternating chapters by this husband-and-wife writing team, with Graeme Simsion writing in the voice of mechanically-minded Martin, and Anne Buist writing from the point-of-view of zany Zoe. This is the sort of book that you can easily imagine being filmed, with strong set pieces, gorgeous scenery, and lots of heart and humour.