American artist Zoe and English engineering professor Martin are both recovering from loss. Zoe has been widowed, Martin divorced. Both have grown or about-to-be grown children. Both are at a career crossroads. They end up walking a long pilgrimage route in France and Spain. Zoe, true Californian, to “find’ herself, Martin to test a cart he’s designed for hikers.
Zoe was one of the most annyoying characters ever. Even with a co-author it seems Graeme Simsion still struggles to write “real” women. He did a little better with Rosie in The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, but even she needed more to make her truly believeable. Her hatred of Christian religion, of churches, of clergy and nuns was so shrill and so self-important I wanted to throw the book away. Even her eventual mini-ephiphany didn’t help. She just developed more polite speach about religion.
I really couldn’t understand what Martin saw in her much of the time. She was so self-absorbed! I only really felt an emotion for her other than annoyance after she talks to her daughters. But, honestly? I could almost understand Keith’s choice. UGH.
All of Zoe’s annoyingness was further aggravated by the audio book performer sounding like a teenager. That was a huge problem for me. Had Zoe been 20 she’d have been understandable. But she wasn’t.
Martin was more understandable. He was more real, too. “More real,” but not truly real in that I could be emotionally involved with him and his story. I felt he was just a deliberate opposite of Zoe.
The walk itself turned into the most PC trek in history–though I did enjoy the story of the end, the last stage of the walk.
In the end I decided the publisher wanted this book to keep Rosie fans happy. It is not a “bad” book [no, I’m not condemning it with faint praise]. The Rosie Project was a unique story. The Rosie Effect wasn’t. This one isn’t either. It is a good pool book or beach read or a fun book to pysch you up for a pilgrammage or bucket list trek. Book Clubs can sample Spanish tappas and French wines while they pretend they’ve read it. And no one will realize they haven’t.
Two Steps Forward: A Novel by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist