Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Best Foot Forward by Susie Kelly

When we first moved to France one of the things I missed was English books - I know it sounds silly, but it just hadn’t occurred to me that in France most books would be French. How things have changed in seven years. Our little village library has a decent English book section, every vide grenier (car boot) has at least 4 or 5 stalls selling English books and there are small enterprises like Paperback Jan where dealing in good quality paperbacks has become the new currency.

At a recent book fair I picked up three books by Susie Kelly who lives in Poitou-Charentes like us and loves to travel in France and write about her adventures. (I know, despite living here I can’t resist a good book on a French theme). I have just finished Susie’s first book Best Foot Forward - A 500-Mile Walk Through Hidden France where she walks from La Rochelle on the west coast to Lake Geneva in the east, alone. Wow, what an adventure; I love a day trip to La Rochelle, a beautiful city about an hour and a half drive from us - but it has never crossed my mind to walk there. Ade often works in Switzerland and it takes him a good day to drive there - she must be mad, was my first reaction. As you start reading the book and she describes the blisters, the tiny flimsy tent and the thin lightweight sleeping bag, all of which have to be carried day after day (causing discomfort to her shoulders and back), mad is definitely what comes to mind. The rain comes flooding into the tent, the wet gear is heavier to carry the following day, on frosty nights the condensation freezes on the inside of the tent and you begin to wonder what drives her to continue. Her budget is tight and as everything carried adds weight she often has to beg for a glass of water and some meals are nothing more than nuts and dried apricots, here my thoughts of madness have changed to respect and I’m hooked. I also loved the way she describes the beauty and wildlife she encounters - often taking time to move something small from the edge of the road to the safety of the grass verge. I had a great time following her trek across France (from the comfort of my bed and warm duvet) and I can’t wait to read her other adventures; one about settling into life in rural France (I know how fun that can be) Two Steps Backward , one on a perimeter tour of France with her husband and dogs in a camper van Travels With Tinkerbelle - 6,000 Miles Around France In A Mechanical Wreck and another on a cycle tour of the Marne valley The Valley Of Heaven And Hell - Cycling In The Shadow Of Marie Antoinette Go Susie Go!
French Village Diaries book review Susie Kelly France Poitou-Charentes Best Foot Forward A Perfect Circle

More information on her books is available here on the Blackbird site, or if you have a Kindle, Best Foot Forward ebook is launching tomorrow, see here for details; Blackbird e books on Facebook.  You will also find a link to her blog No Damn Blog here.