Greta, bless her, has never travelled, never even been in an airplane, let alone have a passport. She is 39 years old, has worked for a pool supply shop in suburban Auckland for over 20 years, a family friend giving her the job when she was 17. Her delightful child spirit has been crushed completely over the years following the leaving of her father when she was just six years old. Poor Greta, in her 6 year old innocence sees his disappearance as her fault, and her mother, in her despair, rage and disappointment never seems to fix this. Now Greta has a safe life, mediocre, dull, few if any friends other than her pet chicken. She sees herself as unattractive with her nearly 6 ft large frame and size 43/11 feet. And then she meets Walter. She finds a friend, becomes a friend and blossoms. Until Walter dies. The light goes out again.
Until Greta is contacted by Walter's solicitor. Walter has left a most special and surprising gift for Greta. And before Greta knows what has hit her, she is on a plane, off to New York, with instructions left by Walter as to what to do, where to go, as well as another letter with the next destination. He gives her the gift of a life, a life she never thought she would or could ever have. During the course of the weeks away she gets to know herself finally after all these years, coming to terms with her childhood, and where things went so terribly wrong. She is challenged at every turn by people, places, events; awed by the world around her and what it offers, the kindness those she meets show her. Her return to NZ is as a totally different person, but does she have the courage to keep on reinventing her life?
This novel really is a journey, and we are in it from the beginning. Endearing, funny, smart, brave, friendly - she has it all. Even her size 11 feet prove to be a bonus. As a fellow size 11 footer, I relate a 1000 percent to this - recent years have finally seen shops for women with large feet - pretty, feminine, elegant and stylish shoes. I told the women in the shop I go to - Willow Shoes - to get hold of this book, have a read and a laugh. And I hope author Fiona Sussman follows them up on it!