From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Claire Cook: The Wildwater Walking Club

I love to walk! But I usually do it alone, so it's hard to get motivated. True story alert: On July 3, I received a shiny, new pedometer, which I promptly attached to my waistband as I walked to the park to take part in the city's 4th of July festivities. When I got there, I was excited to see that I had walked almost 3,000 steps! Now that's motivation! Unfortunately, I lost the pedometer. Along with it, my motivation. I thought reading The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook might help me get a little of that motivation back.

Just put one foot in front of the other. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But when Noreen Kelly takes a buyout from her job of eighteen years and gets dumped by her boyfriend in one fell swoop, she finds it hard to know what that next step is-never mind take it. At first Noreen thinks maybe her redundancy package could be an opportunity, a chance to figure out what to do with the rest of her life while her company foots the bill. Sure, she may have gotten high to "Witchy Woman" and grooved to "Sweet Baby James" back when James Taylor had hair, but she isn't ready for her AARP card. Not yet.

But it's the first time in a great many years that Noreen has time to herself-and she has no idea what to do with it. When she realizes that she's mistaken her resume for her personality, Noreen knows that she has to get moving, so she puts on a new pair of sneakers and a seriously outdated pair of exercise pants, and walks. She doesn't get very far at first-just to the end of her street, Wildwater Way-but she perseveres, and when she's joined by her neighbors Tess and Rosie, Noreen realizes that walking is not an extreme sport. It can actually be fun.

As the Wildwater women walk and talk, and talk and walk, they tally their steps, share their secrets, and learn what women everywhere are finding out-that time flies and getting fit is actually fun when you're walking with friends. Throw in a road trip to Seattle for a lavender festival, a career-coaching group that looks like a bad sequel to The Breakfast Club, a clothesline controversy that could only happen in the 'burbs, plenty of romantic twists and turns, and a quirky multigenerational cast of supporting characters, and the result is an experience that's heartfelt, exuberant, and above all, real.

Sometimes it's important to take a moment to appreciate the simple, quiet things that life has to offer. Usually in that moment you find what's really important to you. And that's what Claire Cook's books do for me--offer up a little perspective through straightforward, engaging storytelling and genuine characters.

The core of The Wildwater Walking Club is friendship. Noreen, Tess, and Rosie have very different lives and personalities, but they complement each other wonderfully. Watching their friendship blossom was heartwarming.

As they walk, the characters' personal struggles are revealed--sometimes willingly, sometimes by accident. Following each character on her journey of self discovery was encouraging. Watching them find ways to move forward was inspirational.

I wish I knew people like Noreen, Tess, and Rosie. They'd be great friends and walking buddies.

(And the lavender recipes sprinkled throughout the book were a nice surprise--I might try some of them!)

I enjoyed this story. It made me want to make changes, taught me that it's never too late to find your way, and reminded me how important it is--not just for physical health, but mental health as well--to lace up my sneakers and walk.

For more information, visit Claire Cook at:

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