EBOOK & POD ORIGINALS, LONDON
A touching and inspiring tale of the Texan pioneering spirit, English eccentricity, and two women old enough to know better
Amazon Kindle UK £1.90 buy here
Amazon Kindle USA $2.99 buy here
Amazon Kindle France E2,68 buy here
Amazon Kindle Germany E2,68 buy here
Amazon Kindle Italy E2,68 buy here
Amazon Kindle Spain E2,68 buy here
When Susie Kelly decides, on a whim, to trek alone across France from La Rochelle to Lake Geneva, she entrusts her French farmhouse full of assorted animals to a total stranger from San Antonio, Texas. For each of them it will be a life-changing experience. Both will 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 Texan Jennifer Shields copes heroically with lost dogs, erratic electricity, old men hiding in bushes, and a language she cannot speak, Susie doggedly tramps 500 miles over unknown terrain, frequently lost and either too hot or too cold.
Armchair travellers will enjoy this tale of laughter and tears following the adventures of two women old enough to know better.
“A book to inspire” GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
Also by Susie Kelly on Blackbird Digital Books:
Travels With Tinkerbelle – 6,000 Miles Around France In A Mechanical Wreck The author and her husband devised a simple plan – to take a tent and the dog and drive around the perimeter of France. Like many simple plans it went wrong before it started and they ended up with two dogs and a campervan named Tinkerbelle.
For more information about Susie Kelly and her books visit her website French Footprints
Susie on Twitter @wapifarasi
Susie’s blog www.nodamnblog.wordpress.com.
Susie’s Facebook Page
Feb 11 2012 5.0 out of 5 stars The writer is not a wee timorous lassie; she is a lady with tenacity, courage and oh such a wonderful sense of humour! I find walking the dogs tiring enough but to walk from La Rochelle to Geneva beggars belief! Venture with Susie find out about parts of France you never knew existed, find out about history, loose yourself in this journey. This book is difficult to put down, once started you just have to know how the next leg of the trek unfolds. Lilian, US Amazon
Feb 4 2012 5.0 out of 5 stars I read this book in March 2005 and could read it time and time again as I could with all of Susie Kelly’s books. She is an inspiration with all her wonderful adventures and has a wonderful insight into the history of France, and her charachterisation of people and events are funny, educational and very entertaining. I would highly recommend this book. Congratulations Susie Kelly! I feel privileged to have had such enjoyment from reading your books. Janet, UK Amazon
Feb 1 2012 5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE THIS BOOK! What a fun read! As someone who has thought often about walking across country (USA), I felt like I shared Susie’s adventure. This book is written so well and with a lot of humor that made me laugh out loud. Fabulous book. Looking forward to others. San Diego Jesse, US Amazon
29 Jan 2012 5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, brilliant! This book is about a brave woman who takes the bull by the horns, & actually does things lots of us would love to do, but, through indolence, laziness, fear, lack of time or opportunity, never get round to. But it’s more than that. In modern life, it always seems to be the case that every thing we do, every effort, every penny we spend, must, of needs, have a result or outcome beyond the thing itself. In this lovely book there is more than that, a simple, oft-quoted but usually ignored undercurrent. And what, you may ask, is that? It’s the simplest of things, yet one so rarely seen these days. The love, the passion, the dedication, despite suffering and setback, in spite of hazards both natural and man-made, to do, and wherever and whenever possible, enjoy to the utmost the thing itself. The journey, irrespective of the destination, or outcome. Then there’s the humour, which constantly tickles you, and often makes you burst our laughing. This book is a tonic, an escape from materialism, a sojourn into territory, physical and abstract, where most of us, alas, have never ventured. I loved every bit of it, & I’ll be reading ALL of Susie Kelly’s books! James Penhaligon “Jim” (Cornwall) UK Amazon
Jan 13th 2012
Review by Tom Cunliffe, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer
I enjoy reading about the adventures of lone travellers, particularly when they are travelling under their own steam. In the middle of winter, its particularly good to read of someone setting off on a spring morning to see where their journey is going to take them.
I’ve already reviewed Susie Kelly’s book The Valley of Heaven and Hell in which she cycled with her husband on the trail of Marie Antoinette as she fled from Paris to Rheims (only to return later to meet her death). Now, Blackbirdebooks have published Susie’s earlier book, Best Foot Forward in which she walked alone from La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast right across France and into Switzerland, carrying a flimsy tent and a few essentials – an adventure indeed.
Having done quite a bit of walking in France myself, I could only marvel at Susie’s ability to find her way through such a great distance in the French countryside. Many’s the time I’ve been lost while walking in France even when walking for just an afternoon and with the car usually waiting for us just over a nearby hill. While there are way marks on all the major routes, a west-east journey like this required a lot of route-finding across dull terrain which the major walking routes never passed through. Susie was equipped only with a large scale map which frequently misled her and often had to rely on the knowledge of passers by who turned out to be far from reliable.
Many times she turned up in a village only to find it was the wrong one, or that the camp-site she was aiming at was located elsewhere. I could almost feel her fatigue on encountering situations like this:
After a long and hot safari . . . I arrived in a village which should have been just one and a half miles from Brioux. Everything about the surroundings corresponded with the map, apart from the cemetery which although very clearly marked on the map wasn’t there in the village. The name on the village notice board was not the same name as the name on the map. There were three merry ladies chatting like budgies nearby, and they waved me cheerily into their collective bosom.
“I am in Pontioux, aren’t I” I asked hoping that is I said it positively enough it would be so.
“No, but it’s not far away” said one of the ladies helpfully. “This is Arsanges. Le Pontioux is just three and a half miles in that direction”
She pointed northwards. That meant nearly five miles to Brioux. Another two hours agonising walk.
The walk was quite early in the year and even when Susie arrived at a campsite they were often far from ready for visitors. Sometimes she was the only camper, separated from the world in the middle of the night only by one wall of nylon tent, but she seems to have an ability to trust to fate and a mobile phone (which presumable was often out of range). The campsite facilities seem to have varied from pristine to filthy and the distance from shops and restaurants meant that she was often faced with another walk to find her evening meal. She seemed to be un-phased by eating alone in restaurants and was sometimes rewarded by exquisite meals which enabled her to forget the difficulties of the day.
Having worked for many years in London I found a long time ago that on one of those head-achy days when tiredness and dehydration has set in that two paracetomol and a Diet Coke can be the best pick-me-up. It was interesting to find that Susie agrees with me – “Now it was a funny thing, I used to really hate that drink, but since I started out walking it had become the elixir of life, the only thing that quenched my thirst and gave me the energy I needed”. (Note, there is normally no product-placement in my book reviews!).
Of course, on a journey like this, you meet a vast range of people, some helpful, others less so. Often her fellow campers were affluent folk in mobile homes (the French seem to love these even more than we do in Britain). The appearance of a lone back-packer often went un-noticed by the leisure campers but sometimes people recognised what an arduous task Susie had set herself. I can imagine what a wonderful respite the couple Berdien and Ab gave her -
They were both fit and very tanned, and wanted to know why my feet were sore. I explained. Berdien said something in Dutch to Ab, and disappeared into the caravan, emerging a few moments later with an electric foot spa. Ab was despatched to find an extension lead, and five minutes later I was installed in an armchair, plumped up with cushions, with a large whisky in one hand and both feet immersed in warm, fragrant water. After half an hour in the spa, Berdien took my feet in her lap, patted them tenderly with a fluffy towel and then massaged them into a state of bliss.
Susie is well-up on French history and culture and provides a lot of background information to her readers. At one point she met a group of elderly people speaking the Creusois dialect derived from the langue d’Oc, the ancient language of the southern part of France, “the original language of the Troubadors”. While walking through the hilltop village of Charroux we read of the plagues and militiary battles which scarred the area in previous centuries. It is details like this that made me want to visit new areas of France to see the beautifully described sites she saw on her travels.
I have read many books of “great walks”, but few which show an ability to trudge on day after day through terrible rain and furious heat. Susies nights were beset by flooding and insect infestations yet she carried right across France, with feet blistered into a pulp and with terrible pain – a journey like this cannot be made in comfort. Many people would have given up but eventually she reached Lake Geneva and walked into the lake, filling her battered green jungle hat with water and pouring it over her head. The end of an incredible journey which provided this reader at least with a sense of having travelled with the author through her struggles.
The book represents fantastic value at its current price.