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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Two Steps Forward" by Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Two Steps Forward" by Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist

  1. Character Development: How do the main characters, Zoe and Martin, change and grow throughout the course of their journey on the Camino de Santiago? What pivotal moments or experiences contribute to their personal development?

  2. Themes of Healing: Both Zoe and Martin embark on the Camino seeking healing from past traumas and losses. How does the pilgrimage facilitate their healing processes? In what ways do they confront their pasts and find solace in the present moment?

  3. Relationship Dynamics: Discuss the evolving relationship between Zoe and Martin. How do their initial interactions differ from their later interactions, and what factors contribute to the deepening of their connection?

  4. Setting and Symbolism: The Camino de Santiago serves as both a physical and metaphorical journey for the characters. How does the setting of the pilgrimage impact their experiences and perceptions? What symbolic significance does the Camino hold in the context of the story?

  5. Dual Perspectives: The novel alternates between Zoe and Martin's perspectives. How does this narrative structure enhance the reader's understanding of the characters and their individual journeys? Do you find one perspective more compelling or relatable than the other?

  6. Community and Connection: Throughout their journey, Zoe and Martin encounter a diverse array of fellow pilgrims. Discuss the significance of these encounters and the sense of community that develops among the pilgrims. How do these connections influence Zoe and Martin's experiences?

  7. Themes of Self-Discovery: In what ways do Zoe and Martin rediscover themselves and redefine their identities during the pilgrimage? How do they confront their fears, insecurities, and preconceived notions about themselves and others?

  8. Cultural and Historical Context: The Camino de Santiago has a rich history and cultural significance. How does the novel explore the historical and cultural aspects of the pilgrimage route? What insights does it offer into the traditions, rituals, and spiritual significance of the Camino?

  9. Narrative Style and Structure: Reflect on the novel's narrative style, including its use of alternating perspectives and flashbacks. How does this storytelling technique contribute to the pacing and emotional depth of the story?

  10. Resolution and Reflection: Consider the ending of the novel and the characters' respective resolutions. How do Zoe and Martin's experiences on the Camino shape their outlook on life and their future paths? What themes or messages does the conclusion of the story convey?

Graeme Simsion

Early Life and Education: Graeme Simsion was born and raised in New Zealand. He later moved to Australia, where he pursued his education. Simsion obtained his bachelor's degree in Computer Science and later completed a Ph.D. in Information Systems. His academic background in data modeling and technology would later influence his writing career.

Career Transition: Before becoming a full-time writer, Simsion worked as a consultant in the information technology industry. He specialized in data modeling, a field that involves organizing and structuring data for analysis and decision-making. This background provided him with a unique perspective and skill set that he would later incorporate into his writing.

Literary Success: In 2013, Graeme Simsion published his debut novel, "The Rosie Project." The novel follows the story of Don Tillman, a socially awkward genetics professor who embarks on a quest to find a wife using a scientific approach. "The Rosie Project" became an international bestseller and was praised for its charming characters, witty humor, and heartfelt exploration of love and relationships.

Following the success of "The Rosie Project," Simsion continued the story with two sequels: "The Rosie Effect" (2014) and "The Rosie Result" (2019). These novels further developed the characters of Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman as they navigate the challenges of marriage and parenthood.

In addition to the Rosie series, Simsion has written other novels, including "The Best of Adam Sharp" (2016), a romantic comedy exploring themes of love, music, and nostalgia.

Personal Life: Graeme Simsion resides in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife, Anne Buist, who is also an author. Together, they have collaborated on the novel "Two Steps Forward" (2017), a story about two strangers who walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. Simsion and Buist share a passion for writing and often draw inspiration from their travels and life experiences.

Legacy: Graeme Simsion has established himself as a prominent figure in contemporary fiction, known for his humorous yet heartfelt storytelling and memorable characters. His novels have resonated with readers around the world and have been translated into numerous languages. Simsion's unique blend of humor, romance, and introspection continues to captivate audiences, cementing his place in the literary landscape.

Anne Buist

Early Life and Education: Anne Buist was born and raised in Australia. She developed a passion for storytelling and psychology from a young age, which would later influence her career as both a writer and a psychiatrist.

Buist pursued her education in medicine and psychiatry, obtaining her medical degree and later specializing in psychiatry. Her background in mental health and her experiences working with patients would later inform her writing, particularly in her exploration of complex characters and psychological themes.

Career: Anne Buist has had a diverse and accomplished career in both psychiatry and writing. As a psychiatrist, she has worked in various clinical settings, including inpatient and outpatient facilities, as well as forensic psychiatry.

In addition to her clinical work, Buist has also held academic positions, teaching medical students and conducting research in the field of perinatal psychiatry. She has published numerous academic articles and book chapters on topics related to mental health, women's health, and forensic psychiatry.

Literary Success: As a writer, Anne Buist is known for her gripping psychological thrillers and novels. She made her fiction debut with "Medea's Curse" (2015), the first book in the Natalie King, Forensic Psychiatrist series. The novel introduces Dr. Natalie King, a forensic psychiatrist who works with the criminally insane while grappling with her own personal demons. "Medea's Curse" received critical acclaim for its compelling plot, vivid characters, and insightful exploration of mental illness and forensic psychiatry.

Buist continued the Natalie King series with "Dangerous to Know" (2016) and "This I Would Kill For" (2019), further delving into the complexities of forensic psychiatry and the human psyche.

In addition to her psychological thrillers, Buist has also collaborated with her husband, Graeme Simsion, on the novel "Two Steps Forward" (2017), a heartwarming story about two strangers who walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain.

Personal Life: Anne Buist resides in Melbourne, Australia, where she continues to work as a psychiatrist and writer. She is married to Graeme Simsion, who is also an author, and together they have collaborated on literary projects. Buist is passionate about mental health advocacy and raising awareness about issues related to psychiatry and women's health.

Legacy: Anne Buist has established herself as a talented and versatile writer, adept at crafting gripping psychological thrillers and engaging novels. Her background in psychiatry lends authenticity and depth to her storytelling, while her keen insights into the human mind captivate readers and keep them on the edge of their seats. Buist's contributions to both the fields of psychiatry and literature have earned her recognition and praise, making her a respected figure in both domains.


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