Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication date – 26 May 2022
Source – review copy
Daniel isn’t used to living life in the slow lane. So when he finds himself unexpectedly jobless and back in his old Cornish hometown, he can’t sit still.
Hazel used to be adventurous too. But now widowed and in her eighties, she barely leaves the house. When she sees an advert for Daniel’s new walking club, she grabs at the chance of some excitement.
Daniel’s heart sinks when he sees that the only person who’s turned up for his walking club is the crazy old lady from two doors down. But what he doesn’t expect is to discover that Hazel is one of the most fascinating people he’s ever met . . .
Daniel is back in his Cornish home town. His grandmother has died, leaving her house to Daniel and his sister. All he has to do is clear the property, sell it and he can leave again. He decides to start a walking club to pass the time. His heart drops however when the only person to attend is Hazel, his grandmother’s elderly neighbour. Rather than a brisk breeze along the cliff tops he is facing a shuffle and rest stop crawl. But then he discovers Hazel has more to her than first appears and Daniel finds out things about himself as he gets to know her.
Daniel finds that rather than resenting being back in Cornwall, he has the chance to reassess his life and his priorities. He is aware he as been drifting, allowing his enjoyment of his tour guide job to be an excuse not to move forward and plan for the future. He wasn’t aware of how unstable his life could have been but being back gives him the time and space to slow down and decide what he wants from life.
There is a cosy feel to the novel, due in part to the characters, who are warm and inviting, and also due to the location, the sense that whilst there are wide open spaces and the sea at the door, there is also a close knit community feel to Daniel’s childhood home.
I would have liked to have heard more about Hazel’s past and the life of Daniel’s grandmother. There were hints as to how she was not who Daniel had been led to believe and that part of the story could have been explored more. Hazel was a lovely character and because of that I wanted to find out more about her past and her life with her beloved Henry.
I didn’t feel as if Daniel’s character was as developed as it could have been. There was more to him hinted, the history with his father being one example. It was such a history that led him to be where he was and it would have been great to find out more. Many of the characters are easy to imagine, the fellow walkers who are all quirky, bringing a gentle humour to the story. There are Daniel’s friends from Sicily who show a different side to Daniel.
Despite those niggles I enjoyed reading about Daniel’s journey of self discovery and seeing how his relationships with Hazel, with his sister and with his friends developed.
This is a gently paced novel, much like the pace of the walks Daniel and Hazel take along the coastal path. A story about stopping and taking a breath, reassessing your life and discovering what you are looking for may have been in front of you this whole time.