The Salt Path
I came to this book late. Despite it being a steady bestseller, the winner of numerous awards, boasting a beautiful cover and recommended to me time and again, it was some two years since its publication that I came to read it - largely because the author has brought out another book and I knew I needed to read this one first!
And my, what an amazing book!
Even though I knew something of the motivation for this long-married couple to undertake a 630 mile walk along the South-West Coastal Path, it was still horrific to read. Their 'forever home' of a farm in Wales was taken away from them when they invested in a friend's business only to find themselves liable when it failed. Then just a few days later, they are given the diagnosis for husband, Moth's longstanding health problems - he had a degenerative, incurable condition. A death sentence effectively.
I'm sure no one would want to imagine how they'd cope if they experienced this situation, but it is truly extraordinary that the couple decided to pack a couple of rucksacks, count the remaining pennies left to them in their bank account, and set off on an epic walk.
Their story is beautifully written and rather understated in the way the author refers to the times when they go hungry, can't shower, try to get warm and dry after bad weather, and experience alienation from people they meet. "We could be homeless, having sold our home and put money in the bank, and be inspirational. Or we could be homeless, having lost our home and become penniless, and be social pariahs," she says in one of the comments about attitudes to homelessness.
This is a stunning read which is hugely inspirational, uplifting and liberating: "Life is now, this minute, it's all we have. It's all we need."