Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Best Foot Forward - Susie Kelly

Title: Best Foot Forward
Author: Susie Kelly
Genre: Non Fiction
Published: 2000
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

“Best Foot Forward” is a personal account written by Susie Kelly that charts a walk she undertakes across France from La Rochelle to Geneva. Susie, a middle aged English woman domiciled in France had never really embarked upon a journey as long as that before but as she was getting bored of her shorter regular walks she decided she wanted to undertake the challenge. And so, after finding a woman on the internet to come all the way from the USA and look after her home and animals she sets out of her 550 mile journey which would take around 6 weeks to complete.

As someone who isn’t much a walker, I found that Susie does a good job in detailing the various problems and issues she encounters on her hike. This ensured that I could relate and understand the problems she was facing without having personally experienced some of them. In addition, she ensures that some of her narrative focuses on the people, places and animals she encounters during her journey which really helps bring the areas of France she visited alive.

I find that I am almost in awe of Susie for what she accomplishes as her determination and humour enable her to succeed in overcoming some quite severe difficulties. Terrible blisters, an eyesight issue, unsuitable tent and a fair amount of rainfall would have ensured that I would have returned home long rather quickly. Although, I have to admit that I found it rather perplexing that she seemed to do so little to try and remedy many of these problems. Even if she personally didn’t pass anywhere that could have provided a new tent etc. then surely a friend could have dropped off some better equipment if she asked.

In a way the problems she faced due to inadequate equipment and planning actually limited the story a little. This is because it ensured that a lot of the novel was focussed on these issues so that at times the entire account felt rather joyless. It came across like she was more interested in struggling to reach her final destination than actually enjoying the journey itself.

Overall, I did find this to be an interesting book that did keep me entertained as it explored both Susie’s struggles and the places she was visiting. If you are interested in reading true stories highlighting determination, strength and faith then I think Susie’s adventure will appeal.