When life hands you lemons--go for a walk! The lemonade may come later.
Within the space of a few days, fifty-year-old Raynor Winn's husband of thirty-two years is diagnosed with an increasingly debilitating terminal illness and, due to a series of misunderstandings, the old farm the two of them have restored over many years and run as a vacation destination is taken from them. They are homeless and almost penniless, relying on a very small (48 pounds) monthly income. And it's then that they make the maddest of decisions-- they'll hike the 630 mile South West Coast Path around England's southern tip, camping wild all the way.
It's a desperate move and full of hardship--their diet relies heavily on noodles and not always enough of them, their camping gear is inadequate, hot baths, or baths of any kind are a luxury they can't afford, neither of them is physically up to the rigors of walking long distances carrying all their gear--but they keep going, having no real alternative.
They discover that people they encounter think what they're doing is wonderful and brave -- "Go, old people!"--as long as they say they sold their home. If they say they lost their home, suddenly they're The Homeless and objects of scorn and suspicion.
The writing is by turns gritty and beautiful-- much like the coast they walk. And the life lessons the couple learn, including the healing power of nature, are startling.
I loved this book. It resonated with me on many levels. Winn and her husband had a farm they'd loved and improved, rock by rock, over many years. I read this and shuddered to think of the horror of losing our own farm. John and I visited parts of the area on our great motorcycle trip years ago and fell in love with the beauty of the place. And during that same trip, we reached a similar state that this intrepid couple did -- a feeling of being more at home outside than in and the desire to keep going. (We didn't, as we had teaching jobs waiting for us.)