You know it’s a good book when you finish it and immediately hand it to your wife to read, and then the moments she finishes it she hands it to her Mum to read. This book has everything. It will make you laugh and cry, but it will also make you think.
Raynor and her husband Moth lose everything, and I mean everything. A court decides that they are liable for a debt and then lose all of their savings their house and any form of income. The book starts with the pair hiding in their house before the bailiffs arrive. A box of books in front of them has 500 Mile Walkies by Mark Wallington on the top. In a moment of madness or brilliance, Raynor decides that as they are about to be made homeless, why don’t they walk the West Coast Path from Minehead to Poole, wild camping to save money.
Almost thirty years ago Mark Wallington’s book was recommended to me by a friend, and I remember that I really enjoyed it. So much in fact that many years later on holiday I walked most of the path around Cornwall.
One of the things in the book that will strike you is people’s attitude once they find out that the Winns are homeless, and not homeless through choice. Almost like lepers. Raynor doesn’t shy away from talking about the vast numbers of homeless people that exist in the UK, often slipping through the cracks. The sofa surfers, the summer workers living in tents and the alcoholics and drug addicts, all trying to survive on very little, living hand to mouth, week to week. They meet them all on their walk, and the situation is getting worse. To make things worse, Moth has a long term incurable illness.
Is there a happy ending? You would hope so, but life isn’t always that kind.
The pair of them are approximately the same ages as me and my beautiful wife, and I couldn’t imagine losing everything as I near 50. It made me realise just how lucky I am. I have a wife and dog who love me, and all three of us are fit and healthy. Quite simply you should read this book.