June 13, 2009
The Wildwater Walking Club
The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook
2009 Voice (Hyperion)
Finished on 6/1/09
Rating: 2.5/5 (Fair)
When Noreen takes a buyout and gets dumped by a boyfriend in one fell swoop, she finds herself with nothing but time to notice everything that's missing in her life. Tess is the teacher next door, who thought she'd be spending the summer with her college-bound daughter, but now that daughter isn't speaking to her. The Wildwater Walking Club is complete when they meet Rosie, the dutiful daughter who moved onto her parents' lavender farm after her mother died—and dragged her family with her.
As the Wildwater women walk and talk, and talk and walk, they tally their steps, share their secrets, and let life take them in some new and surprising directions. Throw in a road trip to Seattle for a lavender festival, a career coaching group filled with unemployed Boomers, 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 pure Claire Cook- fun, fast, and totally fabulous.
I started running for exercise when I was eleven years old. We had recently moved to Del Mar, California and I would run from our house down to the beach and back. Looking at Google Maps, I now know it was a little over three miles, round-trip. I also peeked at the Google street view of our house. Wow! It hasn't changed a bit in 36 years!
My passion for running continued for many more years. I didn't join the high school cross country team, but I did take a Beach Jogging class during my sophomore year. My husband loves to tease me about this every chance he gets! "Only in Del Mar, California can you take a Beach Jogging class or Surf P.E., yet never be required to read Shakespeare!"
After my daughter was born, I decided to get back into shape by running in 10K races and eventually worked up to longer distances, running in two half-marathons. But over the years, all those miles caused quite a lot of wear and tear on my knees and I finally had to give it up. When we moved to our current house, I started walking on the bike trail, which is located just a few blocks down the street. It's quite a popular trail, especially after work and on the weekends, but it's not too crowded mid-day. Until we got our dog, I used to walk for an hour (approx. 4 miles) five days a week. Unfortunately, Annie-dog tends to stroll at a more leisurely pace than I prefer, at least for a good workout, so my walking routine has fallen by the wayside. That is until I read Claire Cook's recent release, The Wildwater Walking Club. As I got into the story, I was inspired to turn off the computer, put on my tennis shoes, grab my iPod and hit the trail—without the dog! It felt great to get back out on the trail, walking briskly to my music, swinging my arms, smiling at all the others who were out walking, running, riding their bikes and, yes, walking their dogs. It felt so good to get my heart rate up and feel that stretch in the back of my legs. Walking Annie just doesn't cut it, I'm afraid.
I love my new workout routine, but can't say the same for Cook's latest novel. I didn't enjoy it nearly as well as Summer Blowout, never coming to care about any of the one-dimensional characters or their plights. The dialogue and certain situations didn't always ring true and the simplistic plot left me hoping for more. I really would've liked deeper conversations among the three women as they got to know each other on their walks and during their trip to the Pacific Northwest. The thoughts and feelings (and occasional bickering) they shared felt trite and superficial.
If you're looking for a light summer read, similar to Kris Radish's The Elegant Gathering of White Snows or Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral, this is just the book for you! If you're looking for a book that will motivate you to get up off the couch and start walking, grab a copy of this book. Don't forget to pick-up a pedometer so you can measure your steps. 10,000 steps per day is the goal. Happy reading & walking!
For more information about the 10,000 step walking program, visit this site.
Be sure to click on Cook's website to read her walking group guide, as well as an excerpt from the book.