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Best Foot Forward: A 500-Mile Walk Through Hidden France [Kindle Edition]

Susie Kelly
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“A book to inspire” Good Housekeeping Magazine

A touching, true story of English eccentricity, the Texan pioneering spirit, and two women old enough to know better.

When Susie Kelly decides, on a whim, to trek alone across France from La Rochelle to Lake Geneva in Switzerland, she entrusts her French farmhouse full of assorted animals to a total stranger from San Antonio, Texas. For each of them it is a life-changing experience. Both find their resourcefulness and ingenuity tested to the limit as, in their own ways, they explore and enjoy the culture, cuisine and people of Europe’s most fascinating country.

While Susie doggedly tramps 500 miles over unknown terrain, frequently lost and either too hot or too cold, Texan Jennifer Shields copes heroically with lost dogs, erratic electricity, old men hiding in bushes, and a language she cannot speak.

NEW! Now with integrated maps. Follow Susie's journey online as you read.

"This is one of the best travel books I have read to date. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every drop of it." (Bas Bleu, US Amazon Vine Voice)

"Susie is ... able to paint a picture with words that makes me feel like I am beside her on her journey. Perfect for the Francophile, the armchair adventurer, and the lover of good literature for this is surely literature." (US Amazon Vine Voice)

'I was worn out just reading this book - girl you have some courage and I salute you. I defy anyone not to love this book and all her others.' Twiggy Amazon UK

'I expected to learn, but not to laugh so much. What a great sense of humor Susie has! It makes her writing so endearing! She's down to earth, kind-hearted and insightful. You feel as though you are walking with her.' M D Johns Amazon US

'An incredible journey which provided this reader at least with a sense of having travelled with the author through her struggles.' A Common Reader, UK Amazon Vine Voice

'This book is truly a jewel not to be missed.' Jesse, US Amazon

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born a Londoner, Susie Kelly spent most of the first 25 years of her life in Kenya, and now lives in south-west France with her husband and assorted animals. She's slightly scatterbrained and believes that compassion, courage and a sense of humor are the three essentials for surviving life in the 21st century. She gets on best with animals, eccentrics, and elderly people.

Product Details

  • File Size: 807 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1470919788
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Blackbird Digital Books (January 13, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005UHJAK4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,132 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The trick is in the writing... December 2, 2011
By Richard
Format:Kindle Edition
As a self confessed armchair traveller and long time Francophile, I am constantly in search of travelogues that give me that elusive combination of the feeling of 'being there' and intimacy. Having recently discovered 'The Valley of Heaven and Hell' by the same author, which gave me that combination in bucket loads, it was a delight to discover that she had written several other titles, all with the same accessible, authoritatively informative and - most importantly - effortlessly easy and entertaining style.

Susie Kelly seems to be one of those deliciously fortunate people to whom extraordinary things happen with an ease that makes you wonder what you are doing with your life; who for instance would advertise for someone -ANYONE - to house-sit her home and animals on the internet? Who would confidently expect sane replies? Who would, when they actually get them,see nothing unusual about the respondent being a complete stranger form Texas of all places, who turns out to be dependable, resourceful,and prepared to travel countless thousands of miles on the say-so of a stranger to a country she has never visited, and take on a role that a professional soldier might think twice about?

Joyously, this unlikely beginning is just the typically idiosyncratic precursor to a tale that takes in 500 miles of rural France and includes, in equal measure, laugh-out-loud tales of personal discomfort, disarmingly frank descriptions of the authors self doubt as to her sanity at taking on such a challenge, and absolutely oodles of insightful descriptions of the places she passes through, together with just the right amount of historical perspective.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very sweet and interesting read June 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is no great tale in this book, but a collection of witty accounts, colorful vignettes, and sweet musings. It's nicely written, and you feel as if you've lived the moments with the author, from the blisters, rain, and grimy cafes, to hot showers and breathtaking scenery. A lovely read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Winner! April 5, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As an avid walker, traveler and reader, I found a winning combination in this well-written, humorous book. I admire Susie's spunk and tenacity which allowed her to fulfill a dream. Her story rekindled the desire in me to do something off-beat and daring. Thanks Susie!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an amazing lady! April 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best travel books I have read to date. The authors ability to include all of her adventure is what made this book remarkable to me. '
She gives wonderful history of many of the towns and villages she visits, I learned lots of new things I did not know. How different places were the capitals of what they did best down through history. Susie really knows a lot of history about many of the places she traveled through and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every drop of it.
She gives wonderful descriptions of the beauty and the nature she sees and experiences as she travels along, I could imagine the mountain air, and her descriptions of the feel of being smothered by humidity and the sound of waterfalls, the look of deep clear blue pools of water. I even enjoyed her descriptions of lizards, and slugs, and now I know that the only truly dangerous snake in France is the Asp, which is very small .
I loved her descriptions and stories of the people she meets and the kindnesses shown to her along her long journey. I think maybe there is a bit of the loner in her , this probably contributes to her being a wonderful writer. Being less involved with needing to be around people surely would give one more time to introspect on the beautiful details she draws for us.
How she every concluded her trip with the problems she had with her feet and her eye, what tenacity, truly an admirable adventurer and even more amazing author. Before I started this review I ordered two more of her books to be delivered to my Kindle. The Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling in the shadow of Marie-Antoinette bicycling 500 miles through Paris and Versailles, the battlefields of World War 1. The second book I ordered was - Travels With Tinkerbelle- 6.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Foot Forward November 16, 2013
By Curious
Format:Kindle Edition
Wow, I can finally put my feet up and soothe those blisters! Just kidding. I felt I was walking the long 500 miles with Susie, but in my case from the comfort of my armchair. It takes a very adventurous soul for this kind of adventure. I got totally engrossed in the story which is how it should be. I'm now on this authors third book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Susie, you are an inspiration to me! June 17, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was attracted to this book in part because Susie begins her walk in the region of France from which my mother's family originated, and ends up in a region of France I have not visited. This, I thought, will be most informative (I loved Miles Morland's "A Walk Across France"). I expected to learn, but not to laugh so much. What a great sense of humor Susie has! It makes her writing so endearing! She's down to earth, kind-hearted and insightful. You feel as though you are walking with her. I love to walk and although I'll never walk across France, she's got me thinking I could work more miles into my workouts, and maybe even do some charity walks, instead of the one-mile walks in the neighborhood.

Read this book if you need an extra push in order to accomplish a dream. (And if you love France as I do!) You will see a France you can only see on foot, I suspect. And you will meet a charming writer with an appealing style.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this book
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like I was walking along with Susie. I would recommend it to anyone who loves France as much as I do. Read more
Published 16 days ago by balboapatty
4.0 out of 5 stars This is an engaging narrative of an interesting walk,across France.
I know France well and thoroughly enjoyed this read. Makes me want to go back there again to relive the experience.
Published 16 days ago by Jack Kantola
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a delightful read!
Published 1 month ago by R. Wheeler
5.0 out of 5 stars Best foot forward
Very entertaining, joyful book! Never really understood why she would go on such a trek alone and why no proper sleeping bag. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Penelope d paynter
4.0 out of 5 stars France as everyone should see it
This would have been more enjoyable if I had started with a detailed map of France. I would suggest this to anyone reading about Susie's journey.
Published 2 months ago by Faye
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the recent best books I've read
This book is absolutely delightful: well written, witty, sometimes hilarious.
Published 2 months ago by Underhill
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly charming!
I loved every word of this book. The author has a fun, witty writing style. It was so interesting to follow her adventures across France as she completed her dream, however... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jennifer L LeClair
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well written - interesting geographically - enjoyed interactions with others
Published 3 months ago by Miriam Levinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great writing -i felt as if i was along for the walk.
Published 3 months ago by Wildflower
4.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful, fun book by Susie Kelly.
I really liked this book, being a hiker myself, and I always enjoy Susie Kelly's books. I would have given it 5 stars, but it was very poorly edited with a lot of words missing.
Published 3 months ago by Moretta at Heart
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More About the Author

Susie Kelly was born in grey post-war London, and spent much of her childhood and young adulthood in the beautiful country of Kenya.

She now lives in south-west France with a menagerie of assorted animals, and is passionate about animal welfare.

Her first book "Best Foot Forward" was published by Transworld Publishers in 2003, followed by "Two Steps Backward" in 2004, and "A Perfect Circle" in 2006.

Since 2011 Susie's books have been published by Blackbird Digital Books, whose theme is strong, adventurous women living life to the full. Blackbird Digital Book people love birds and animals, travel, history, romance, natural health and environment, resourcefulness, humour, the surreal and magic.

If her house caught fire and she could only save three things (apart from her animals, of course), they would be courage, compassion and a sense of humour.

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