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Best Foot Forward: A 500-mile Walk Through Hidden France [Paperback]

Susie Kelly , Stephanie Zia
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.41
Price: 5.82 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

14 Oct 2011
A touching and inspiring tale of the Texan pioneering spirit, English eccentricity, 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, 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

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Best Foot Forward: A 500-mile Walk Through Hidden France + Travels With Tinkerbelle: 6,000 Miles Around France In A Mechanical Wreck + Two Steps Backward
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Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (14 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466423285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466423282
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 15 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational traveller crosses France 13 Jan 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I greatly enjoyed Susie Kelly's book The Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette 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). Susie's earlier book, Best Foot Forward is now available in Kindle format and describes how 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. 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.

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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The trick is in the writing... 2 Dec 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 relpies? 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!! 11 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this book. It was a delight from start to finish and I felt quite bereft when I put it down! For anyone who hankers after having a bit of an adventure it is just the thing. I am planning a similar length walking trip and have learnt a few lessons on planning and equipment which will be invaluable. Am now going to buy another of Susie's books without further delay!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Foot Forward 4 Feb 2012
By Janet
Format:Kindle Edition
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, brilliant! 29 Jan 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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, author of 'Speak Swahili, Dammit!' & 'Trevellas Goes Forth".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A real trooper
Came across this delightful book purely by accident,so very glad I did. A wonderful account of an impulse, which turned into a quirky adventure. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Karen Mcferran
4.0 out of 5 stars Multi sensory trip through rural France west to east/
the author sets out from the outskirts of La Rochelle to walk to Geneva in early summer. The journey was set just before the birth of the euro and comfortably before smart phones. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Roland Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and interesting
It was An interesting record of a journey through part of the world I enjoy. Susie writes well with a natural Gift for descriptive writing. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Thomas Lighterness
4.0 out of 5 stars Gives you the taste to try it
Excellent reading a makes you want to don your backpack and head to the continent and explore what treasures remain hidden.
Published 4 months ago by David Lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars dont know why I missed reviewing this!
Anyway...a little late after reading...naughty Amazon must have forgotten to remind me...

a wonderfully warm and witty recounting of a pretty epic trip. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. A. Coates
5.0 out of 5 stars just my type of book
All the things I would loved to have done before I ended up immobile, but cycled all the local country lanes looking at birds and flowers for many years enjoying the fresh air. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J CHARLES
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Anyone thinking of walking in France but is not sure of what to expect then this book is an eye opener..I've been to France when it rained and everything was closed.. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J. S. Walton
5.0 out of 5 stars Susie Kelly
I have found a fabulous author in Susie Kelly and would recommend her books to everyone. How anyone man or women could leave their home (in the care of good person) and set of to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Moyaux
5.0 out of 5 stars Best foot forward
Really enjoyed this book , it felt as though I was doing the journey with Susie , she is very brave well done .
It made for good reading , very enjoyable .
Published 7 months ago by malcolm davis
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
This book is a good read, some parts I found a little 'samey' - which is the reason I dropped my rating by one star, but still recommended. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Velma
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