The Wildwater Walking Club
Voice (Hyperion), May 5 2009, $24.99
In Massachusetts, Balancing Act Shoes is downsizing and decides that fortyish Noreen Kelly is redundant. They offer her eighteen months of salary and career counseling, which she accepts. On her first day of work freedom, Noreen tries to call and email her lover Michael, whose company conducted the reduction at her firm, but he fails to answer her; she knows silence denotes she has been dumped. She finds daytime TV boring so she goes to her former place of work and using her employee discount for no reason she can fathom buys enough walking shoes to fill Imelda Marcos’ closet.
Noreen begins walking and soon meets her neighbor Tess the teacher who is lonely as her teenage daughter is not speaking to her. They begin walking together and meet Rosie, who owns the big house at the top of the hill. She joins them as they form the Wildwater Walking Club with over 10,000 strides every morning on the nearby beach walk. They talk about their woes everyday. Tess hopes to reconcile with her daughter before she goes off to college; Rosie feels overwhelmed with too much responsibility and Noreen feels under whelmed with no responsibility. They become friends with one another and others like a cancer victim in New Orleans and unemployed Rick who especially likes Noreen.
The WILDWATER WALKING CLUB is an engaging look at the importance of friendship as each of the three women finds walking as a catharsis because they have someone listening to their personal concerns, fears, and gripes. There are several other subplots involving other people, but those detract from the main theme of a friend in need sometimes only need simple acts like listening. Readers who enjoy a celebration of friendship will want to walk the beach along side the Wildwater trio.