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Best Foot Forward

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  185 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Why would an unfit, 50-something Englishwoman embark on a solo walk across France from La Rochelle on the west coast to Lake Geneva over the Swiss border? And why would a total stranger from San Antonio, Texas come to live in her crumbling French farmhouse to house-sit for a multitude of boisterous and unpredictable animals? With no experience of hiking or camping, not to ...more
Published January 1st 2003 by Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group) (first published May 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 379)
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David King
“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 ...more
James Penhaligon
An extraordinary book, a wonderful, chatty, engaging journey on foot by a stalwart lady adventurer on the footpaths and roads of rural France. To say it is well-written would be an understatement, just as to say it isn't side-burstingly funny would be a lie. Susie Kelly engages with you, the reader, in a remarkable and very enjoyable way. Best foot forward is the kind of book which you want to curl up, nice and warm, in bed with, to know that when you go to sleep it will be with the most pleasan ...more
A fascinating book, especially her descriptions of the charming French villages she walks through, the people she meets along the way, and the natural world of she experiences as she walks. And parts of her personality that she chooses to reveal are appealing, such as the love he has for all living things, even slugs. But she's infuriating too! She's completely unprepared for her walk, with inadequate equipment (like a lightweight sleeping bag that leaves her freezing & sleepless night after ...more
Karenbike Patterson
Here is another woman, like Cheryl Strayed, who sets out on a journey. This is a 52 year old English woman who has lived in France for 4 years. She walks, in 6 weeks, from the west to Geneva Switzerland. Despite some training, she still has horrible foot problems and starts out carrying too much. Along the way she meets the usual characters and helpful people and Kelly describes the meals she eats. Most often she is lost and has to back track and she also kept her tiny and leaking tent. Most of ...more
I love Kelly's style of writing, she's so much fun to read. I laughed and cried along with her and it's just so easy to be caught up in her journey. She's so easy to relate to as she suffers but keeps on going. I love the travel descriptions and though it's not as heavy on the information about the areas she passes through as The Valley of Heaven and Hell book, I still feel like I've learned a lot about rural France and am once again inspired to want to go there myself.

My only beef with this boo
Joan Young
This is one of the best books recounting a long hike I've read.

As a fellow hiker/walker/adventurer many of the situations Kelly faced are familiar, however, in a much different setting, which is rural France.

Kelly decides to hike across France to Lake Geneva, Switzerland although she has never before done a long hike. Her preparations seem adequate, until, of course, she's out there on her own. She'll take you on her journey, day by day.

However, that's where this becomes a much different book f
Vic Heaney
I was very pleased to find this book and really looked forward to reading it because I did a similar, longer journey, across France and then across much of England, on foot. I walked to raise funds for research into finding a cure for pancreatic cancer, the appalling illness from which my first wife died. It would be interesting to compare my walk with Susie's, and my book - Vic's Big Walk - with Susie's. I was not disappointed.

Soon after starting Susie’s book I was in touch with Susie and found

Susie Kelly, a fifty plus English woman domiciled in France decided to take time out from a busy smallholding lifestyle and walk miles across France.

The idea came to her while walking in the lanes around her home one cold January day and becoming bored with repitiveness of her walks. Incidentally an idea I find strange as I always find there is something different to look at with the ever changing seasons.
So Susie decides to embark on a walk from La Rochel
Tracy Davis
Love this book so much

This us a very well written and fun to read travel account of an awesome journey. I am so envious of Susie for what she decided to do and for getting to actually do it. She writes so well and is very funny at times. She definitely sold me on a trip like this. I may just have to plot my own amazing solo journey now. If you like book about personal travel, do not pass this one by. It's a great read and I'm planning visits to more than one place in France just based off of Sus
Julie Oleary
Excellent, humorous and inspiring true story of a 52 year old vegetarian Englishwoman who one day decides she is going to walk West to east across rural frame from La Rochelle, France across the lovely Jura mountains to Lake Geneva, Switzerland by herself with limited resources & less than adequate equipment armed only with humor, a pocketknife and am indomitable human spirit and determination! It also gave a fascinating lol at the characters and places in rural France! A real enjoyable and ...more
an amazingly fun read of an English woman who lives in France & who's 52 deciding to & pulling off walking 500 miles across France to Switzerland
if she can do it, I can read about it...
Anne Lawrence
Quite enjoyed the read. I thought it was honest and showed the trials of such a long hike without the support system you would find along the camino in Spain. I liked that she was brutally honest about how she felt at times on her mostly solo journey.
This is an account by a middle-aged English woman who walked from one point in France to Lake Geneva. It is well written and entertaining, if also more than a bit perplexing. She had continual trouble with her tent for the entire trip, yet never seemed to consider replacing it. More horrific were the graphic details about the suffering from her feet, which were in such terrible shape I really didn't understand how she continued on; since she never got any medical attention it's amazing she didn' ...more
Rudy R. Rice
Great reading.

If you enjoy reading stories of people's adventures, this is the book for you. Give this book a try. You'll not be sorry .
Delyse Richards
A thoroughly enjoyable interesting book about Susie Kelly's very brave solo undertaking to walk across France from La Rochelle on the West coast to Lake Geneva on the border of Switzerland. This journey of about 550 miles took her 52 very footsore days, and brought her into contact with an assortment of people who on the whole couldn't have been kinder and more helpful. She never lost her sense of humour, appreciation of the countryside and compassion for all forms of nature she encountered en r ...more
Sort of like a French version of Cheryl Strayed's Wild, so with much better food.
Good story in need of an editor.
A delightful read. Once I started it I couldn't put it down. Loved the descriptions of the places and people that she saw along the way. I love Susie Kelly's writing style and felt like I was doing the journey with her. Looking forward to reading her other books now.
Barbara Landers
Fascinating! Three books in one, really. One is her personal, introspective and emotional journey. Another is what happens to her on her walk across France, from the people she meets, the campgrounds, the food, and all her adventures. The last and also very interesting journey is the history of the places she visits, and fascinating stories about them all.
Loved it!
Published before "Two Steps Backward," I would recommend reading that first before this one. The walk featured in "Best Foot" happened about 2/3 into "Two Steps."

I enjoyed this book but liked "Two Steps" a bit better. I would probably give "Best Foot Forward" three and a half stars. This story was a bit repetitive but otherwise an enjoyable read.
Susan Keefe
Thoroughly enjoyable! I was transported into Susie's shoes for her epic journey as she narrates wonderfully her adventures walking across France. Sometimes visiting hidden places few of us will be lucky enough to go to. Laughing and crying with her as she meets real characters and challenges on the way.
What I most liked about this book was how normal Kelly was. She undertook a journey, walking across France, without being a super athlete (and to be honest, fairly poorly prepared). It makes her very easy to identify with, and has got me thinking about walking holidays in the future.
It's amazing to me that a 50+ woman sets a goal of backpacking across France alone, and reaches her goal. I enjoy outdoor travel journals, and appreciate the descriptions of everything that went wrong, as well as everything that went right. I feel like I was on that journey.
This is a charming account of a woman's trek across France. It's not 'hilarious' as stated in the back cover blurb but it's full of French history (which I skipped because I have zero interest) but it is pleasantly told.
Brenda Nutter
An entertaining romp around France to Geneva. Reinforces the fact that one never knows what they can accomplish until they try....and nobody says it is going to be easy!
Maria Waltner
Author has an amusing voice but the story is really detailed - an example - she didn't need to describe all the bugs she saved along the way.
This book really shows why authors need good, strong editors! A good story got bogged down in minutia and long winded paragraphs.
Jul 24, 2012 Janice rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012

Winsome tale of a walk across France. The author is wryly observant and writes with gentle good humor.
Alan Weekes
I loved this book. Felt like I'd walked it with her.
A plodding read abut a walking tour across obscure France.
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