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When Susie Kelly decides, at the age of 50+, 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.
With detailed map links, chapter x chapter Follow Susie's journey online as you read.
A touching, true story of English eccentricity, the Texan pioneering spirit, and two women old enough to know better.
"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)
I would have never thought I could be so addicted to a book about a woman who decided to walk 500 miles through the French countryside . This book was delightful. Jo-Anne Himmelman, Amazon Canada
"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
Fans of Wild: A Journey From Lost To Found by Cheryl Strayed will enjoy this book about long distance walking that is about so much more than long distance walking.
'A book to inspire' Good Housekeeping Magazine; 'There are a handful of authors who will achieve that elusive trick of making you laugh out loud. For me it's James Herriot, Bill Bryson & Susie Kelly.' French Entree Magazine; 'What a great sense of humour 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.' US Reader; 'An amazing lady. Susie is an excellent author, descriptive, informative, and 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.' Vine Voice reviewer; 'Reading her books is like listening to relaxing music.' US reader; 'This is one of the best travel books I have read to date. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every drop of it.' Vine Voice reviewer; 'How anyone man or women could leave their home (in the care of good person) and set of to WALK right across France is beyond me. She is an amazing person, so left reliant and brave she is incredible. The writing is in the style of a friend talking to you over a coffee, it is so personal. I have found a fabulous author in Susie Kelly and would recommend her books to everyone.' UK reader
About the Author
Born a Londoner, travel writer Susie spent most of the first 25 years of her life in Kenya. In 2014, her memoir I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry about an abusive childhood growing up in post-war London and Kenya, was a US digital bestseller. She now lives in south-west France with her husband and assorted animals. She believes that her explosive temper is a legacy from her Irish-American grandfather, but has no idea who to blame for her incompetence as a housewife. Susie Kelly is the Patron of the 2015 Charroux International Literary Festival.
File Size: 570 KB
Print Length: 221 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Blackbird Digital Books (January 13, 2014)
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.
In summary, as a searcher for books that allow me to feel in a very real way, that I am the traveller and that what happens to the writer, is happening to me, I found 'Best Foot Forward' to be almost perfect in every respect. it is warm, accessible, entertaining, genuine and informative. An all-round great read. And so much safer and cheaper than slogging across France on your own, with a Texan stranger looking after your worldly possessions!Read more ›
I "borrowed" this book for Kindle and the kindest thing that I can say is that paying nothing for it was the correct price. This is a story of an English woman who walks and whines from La Rochelle to Lake Geneva. If you think you will gain some insight into this region of France or its people, think again. The descriptions of people and places seem very flat (particularly compared to the descriptions of dogs, horses, snakes, birds, spiders, etc. which are of far more interest to the writer than adults, or God forbid children who obviously annoy her greatly). Some of the "information" that she provides is simply hard to believe. "There was a time when motorists would deliberately hit deer and boar to win a free meal...". Seriously?? There was a time when the French were driving along trying to mow down a deer or a wild boar as a means of hunting??
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- 6.000 Miles Around France in a Mechanical Wreck- a journey around the perimeter or France. It took one book to make me want to read more. Susie is an excellent author, descriptive, informative, and 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.Read more ›
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.
I'm a hiker and walker but only daily hikes. I enjoy reading about people who do longer treks, esp. when they put it together themselves or in a small group, and when it's in Europe. Susie has not done much hiking and does some pretty unsafe things during her trip. (Had old maps, bought inappropriate tents, etc., walked with bad feet not cared for and didn't take care of an eye problem.) She seemed more intent on reaching the last city than enjoying her journey.
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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