Miles Away

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Miles Morland was a highly successful investment banker, in charge of the London office for First Boston, when he decided that he had had more than enough of the stress and the long hours. He had been in the business for more than twenty years. The complications of such a highly charged life had taken their toll on his marriage. In the mid 1980’s, Morland and his wife, Guislaine, were divorced. They eventually remarried, however, and in 1989 Morland terminated his relationship with First Boston. The Morlands discussed what they would do next, and finally came up with the idea of walking across France. Guislaine is half French, and her mother lived near the area in which they would walk. Morland amusingly recounts the preparations for the trip, including informing their children that their father no longer had a job and that their parents were taking up serious walking. Since neither of the Morlands was particularly athletic, it took some time for them to get into reasonable physical shape. Guislaine took practice walks around London while her husband mapped out their route for the trip.

MILES AWAY is a stimulating and amusing recounting of the Morlands walk across France. The whole journey would take them 350 miles, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. They traveled during the summer, and it got extremely hot on the afternoons of their twenty-mile-a-day walks. No matter how prepared they thought they were, the reality was something totally different. In a way, the gap between their preconceptions and the reality of the situation made for the most entertaining adventures. The Morlands were presented with an unfamiliar environment, and they had to make the best of it. MILES AWAY includes wonderful descriptions of the many small villages that they entered. After a number of wrong turns, barking dogs, steep inclines, and hot sun, the Morlands discovered a pace that worked for them. They grew to appreciate very simple pleasures as the journey progressed, and their relationship was strengthened by this unusual experience. The Morlands completed their walk ahead of schedule, and pondered what the future was going to hold for them. MILES AWAY was a bestseller in England. Investment banking is likely to remain no more than a memory, and the Morlands may be planning their next adventure already. It can only be hoped that whatever they do, their experiences will be turned into another book.