Cover image for A walking guide : a novel
A walking guide : a novel
Cowell, Alan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2003]

Physical Description:
viii, 269 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Diagnosed with a terminal nerve disorder, intrepid war journalist Joe Shelby embarks on a last attempt to scale England's highest mountain, a quest that tests his courage and forces him to come to terms with his illness. A first novel. 17,500 first printing.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

British journalist Cowell (Killing the Wizards), an international correspondent for Reuters and the New York Times, weaves a lush if gloomy tale of love and betrayal set in England and Africa. Joe Shelby, a seasoned war correspondent, has embarked on the hiking expedition of his lifetime: scaling Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain. Several hurdles stand in Joe's way, the most serious being motor neuron disease, a crippling ailment that has left one of his arms debilitated and his muscles slowly turning to mush. He has promised his beautiful Kenyan girlfriend, Eva Kimberley, to return in three days, but she is troubled by shadows of the past. While Joe ambles up the mountain, the couple's history plays out in flashbacks. Joe first met Eva in Kenya, where he wooed her away from Jeremy Davenport, a photo safari guide. But Jeremy didn't mind losing Eva, since he had his sights set on Joe's French war-photographer friend, Faria Duclos, a tough-as-nails ex-model. Joe's mountaineering odyssey is recounted in excruciating detail as he speaks into a tape recorder, capturing every misstep and chronicling his increasingly deteriorating physical state ("little demons under my skin pulling at the muscle tissue"). Meanwhile, a snowstorm sweeps in off the Irish Sea, and Jeremy and Faria drift separately toward Scafell Pike. Cowell writes with urgency and elegance, and there's nary a word out of place in this striking debut. Though the self-absorbed protagonists are hard to like, their dogged pursuit of adventure and truth gives sharp-edged appeal to the narrative. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Since Cowell is a Polk Award-winning journalist, he should bring just the right touch to protagonist Joe Shelby, war correspondent extraordinaire. Threatened with a nerve disorder that could end his life, Shelby decides to risk all on one last attempt to climb England's highest peak. There's good word on this fiction debut. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.