THE WILDWATER WALKING CLUB

Claire Cook

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,

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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for her personality, Noreen knows that she has to get moving, so she puts on a new pair of sneakers and a seriously outdated pair of exercise pants, and walks.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.

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  • Voice
  • Paperback
  • April 2010
  • 272 Pages
  • 9781401340137

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About Claire Cook

 Claire Cook is the bestselling author of Summer Blowout, Life’s a Beach, Must Love Dogs, Multiple Choice, and Ready to Fall. She teaches workshops for aspiring writers and women coming into their own at midlife, and has had previous stints as a fitness teacher and dance and aerobics choreographer. She lives in Scituate, Massachusetts, with her husband, where she walked 10,000 steps a day while writing this novel.

Praise

“The women of The Wildwater Walking Club are a delightful trio, full of heart and determination. As theyliterallyput one foot in front of the other, the three new friends find unlikely paths that point them toward more fulfilling lives. Their journey left me genuinely inspired (and with the curious urge to go out and buy a clothesline).”
Jean Reynolds Page, author of The Space Between Before and After

The Wildwater Walking Club reminds of us what’s important in life–the joy of friendship, the power of a brisk walk, and of course the importance of a good book. This exhilarating novel made me want to call my friends and lace up my shoes. I couldn’t put it down.”
Anisha Lakhani, author of Schooled

“Lively and inspiring.”—The Hartford Courant

Discussion Questions

Claire Cook walked 10,000 steps along with her characters while writing The Wildwater Walking Club. Did this novel inspire you to dust off your pedometer and get out there?

How does each of the three main characters – Noreen, Tess and Rosie – change during the course of the novel? What triggers these changes?

Noreen takes a buyout from Balancing Act partly because of Michael’s influence. Have you ever let a career decision be influenced by a man you were dating? Kind of dating?

If you were Rosie, would you have uprooted your family and moved them to the lavender farm to help your father? If not, which of your siblings might have stepped up?

Have you ever had to decide whether to tell a teenager’s mother you saw her/him sneaking out/smoking a cigarette/ etc.? Where do you think you should draw the line between doing the right thing and minding your own business?

What do you think the three women’s reaching out to Annalisa, who is essentially a stranger, says about them? About women in general?

Do you believe men like Michael-Don’t-Call-Me-Mike are essentially redeemable? Why or why not?

Balancing Act sneakers and slogans include: Dream Walker. (You’ll Swear You’re Walking on Clouds.) Step Litely. (Do These Sneakers Make Me Look Thin?)  Feng Shuoe. (New Sneakers for a New Age.) If you were creating your dream sneaker, what would you name it and what would its slogan be?

Do think clotheslines should be outlawed or encouraged? Why?

If  The Wildwater Walking Club is made into a movie, who would you want to play Noreen? Noreen’s mother? Tess? Hannah? Rosie? Rosie’s father? Michael? Rick? Brock? Sherry?

Which parts of the novel made you laugh? Cry?

Which character in The Wildwater Walking Club is most like you? Which one would you most like to hang around with?

If they were real and you were dating, would you be more apt to date Michael or Rick? Tell the truth.