My books

People ask why I write, and the answer is simply that I enjoy sharing some of our experiences of the people we have met and the places we have visited in the twenty years we have lived in France, as well as other aspects of my life and interests.

I can’t write to order. It’s no good offering to pay me to write something about a topic that doesn’t truly interest me, because if the passion isn’t there, I can’t do it.

Humour plays a very big part in my life, and I always look for the ‘funny’ in any situation.  My books are usually described as being light-hearted easy reads. I hope they are and that they make people smile, because the world can never have too many smiles. 🙂

All my books are available direct from Amazon by clicking either the title beneath each cover image, or the links to your local Amazon according to your geo-location.

Alternatively, you may order from bookstores worldwide using the ISBNs, with the exception of The Lazy Cook (2), which at the moment is exclusively available from Amazon.

The review ratings below are based on the Amazon.co.uk site; on other sites, they may differ.

‘There are a handful of authors that will achieve that elusive trick of making you laugh out loud. For me it’s James Herriot, Bill Bryson & Susie Kelly.’ French Entree Magazine

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Best Foot Forward – a 500-mile walk through hidden France

Publisher’s description: “When Susie Kelly decides, at the age of 50+, on a whim, to trek alone across France from La Rochelle to Lake Geneva in Switzerland, she entrusts her French farmhouse full of assorted animals to a total stranger from San Antonio, Texas. For each of them it is a life-changing experience. Both find their resourcefulness and ingenuity tested to the limit as, in their own ways, they explore and enjoy the culture, cuisine and people of Europe’s most fascinating country.

While Susie doggedly tramps 500 miles over unknown terrain, frequently lost and either too hot or too cold, Texan Jennifer Shields copes heroically with lost dogs, erratic electricity, old men hiding in bushes, and a language she cannot speak.”

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“I savoured this book. I would dip into it now and again to read where Susie went next. I could have read it easily in one sitting, but to do so would have meant rushing past some hidden gems. The simple style of writing belies the evocative landscapes, the quirky characters and the wry humour that abound within this journey.” PilgrimChris

Buy Kindle, paperback or audio version from your local Amazon: here 

Order paperback from bookstores worldwide: ISBN 978-0993092275

First published in 2003 in Bantam by Transworld Publishers.

This edition published in 2014 by Blackbird Books

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Two Steps Backward – the Misadventures of an Englishwoman in France

Publisher’s description: “Susie Kelly and her husband Terry had long dreamed of owning a home in France, but ironically it wasn’t until they were facing homeless penury in England that they realized their dream. With five dogs, two parrots and their elderly horses, they moved to an old farmhouse in the Poitou-Charentes region with dirt floors, no water and a primitive electricity supply.

While Terry was back in England trying to support them all, Susie Kelly contended with a homicidal gas cooker at the bottom of the garden, burst pipes, a guinea fowl that turned somersaults and bit people on the shin and a constant stream of people turning up at her door with needs of their own. Sometimes the enormity of renovating a house with insufficient funds and little help seemed overwhelming. She saw her husband infrequently. Their English neighbour was imprisoned on drug-smuggling charges. And when Terry developed a condition that brought him close to death, the dream threatened to turn into a nightmare.

There were times when Susie and Terry seemed to be taking two steps backward, but the kindness of the local community and the tranquillity of the landscape inspired them to make a new life for themselves and their animals in the place they now called home.”

41 of 13.JPG“I loved this book, and felt i’d lost a friend when i finished it…..I am something of an addict of the travel lit genre, and I honestly would put this up there with the best….warm and funny, yet believable and unforced. If you have a fondness for people , animals , and a gentle humour, you’ll enjoy this.”  Amazon Customer

Available only in paperback, from Amazon or to order from bookstores worldwide with ISBN: 978-0553816204

Published in 2004 in Bantam by Transworld Publishers.

Travels with Tinkerbelle – 6,000 miles around France in a mechanical wreck

Publisher’s description:“The author and her husband devised a simple plan – to take a tent and the dog and drive around the perimeter of France. Like many simple plans it went wrong before it started and they ended up with two dogs and a campervan named Tinkerbelle.

Starting in Brittany, they motorhome along the Atlantic Coast south to the Pyrenees, then follow the Mediterranean resorts to the Alps before juddering off towards the north coast across terrifyingly high mountain causeways. But on the second day of their journey Tinkerbelle begins to self-destruct, helped by the new dog who does his best to eat her from the inside out. This is their story, as they travel from sandy beaches to snow-topped mountains exploring the diverse cultures, cuisines and countryside making up the country called France. Their journey takes them to places out of the ordinary, meeting interesting characters and witnessing ancient traditions. While the dogs rejoice in the freedom they find running on the beaches, Susie and Terry spend a lot of time holding their breath, wondering whether their clapped out old campervan called Tinkerbelle will manage to negotiate impossible mountain routes and get them home before she completely disintegrates.”
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“Susie manages to pack in so many snippets of information, history or just their experience of the moment. Much as I am an avid fan even I never thought that elephants would get a good mention without a zoo in sight. Little gems like that make you feel the author is sitting beside you like a chat in the pub.” P Prior

Buy Kindle or paperback version from your local Amazon: here 

Order paperback from bookstores worldwide: ISBN 978-0993092282

(Previously published in 2006 by Transworld under the title: “A Perfect Circle”).

Published in 2012 by Blackbird Books

The Valley of Heaven and Hell – cycling in the shadow of Marie-Antoinette

Publisher’s description: “Susie’s cycling adventure follows the route taken by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette on their abortive escape from the French Revolution and their journey back to their executions. After a hair-raising journey through Paris that nearly ends in her own execution by traffic, she finds an area of calm waterways and tranquil countryside bursting with history. Idyllic territory for cyclists. From Paris and Versailles, she wobbles on to the vineyards and champagne cellars of Epernay and Reims, then through the Marne valley, the scene of unimaginable horror and devastation during World War 1. In three weeks Susie and Terry cycle 500 miles, dining sometimes in luxury and often on weird makeshift meals in their tent. Along the way there are traumas, epiphanies, occasional matrimonial disagreements and the odd glass of champagne.”

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 This is the fourth book I have read written by Susie Kelly. I have enjoyed them all but this one I consider the best. I have learnt and now feel compassion for Marie Antionette and Louise XVI, I have learnt about an area of France I have never been to, and how they coped with two dreadful world wars, I have learnt about champagne and the vintners who make it, but most of all I have laughed with and at Susie. Never, ever, never will I ride a bike through Paris, with or without Terry!”  Lilian

 

Buy Kindle or paperback version from your local Amazon: here 

Order paperback from bookstores worldwide: ISBN 978-0993092299

Published in 2011 by Blackbird Books

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Swallows and Robins – the Guests in My Garden

Publisher’s description: “As the world’s worst housekeeper, running holiday homes wasn’t, with hindsight, a sensible idea. But two collapsing buildings on Susie Kelly’s land would cost more to demolish than to restore. Thus she became a seasonal landlady. But before the guests came the builders. No’s 1, 2, 3 all started promisingly, but by builder No. 4, and with her first guests just hours away, Susie’s patience was stretched to its limit.

Her summer and winter visitors couldn’t, as they say, be made up, though, to spare their blushes some of them have been air-brushed. They brought with them laughter, tears, romance, friendship and occasional madness. And they all left behind jars of jam and pots of pepper. From them Susie learned that you don’t need to travel to find adventure. If you run holiday homes it comes to your doorstep. Unfortunately for Susie, and her attempts at homes and gardens housekeeping, this included Ivy. The cleaning lady from hell.”

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“This very entertaining book describes the setting up of Susie’s French holiday cottages and the strengths and sometimes appalling foibles of the workmen and her guests. Never a domestic goddess Susie has to find a way to avoid doing the weekly changeover clean herself The solution is almost worse than the cleaning. It is very funny but also there is a vein of sadness running through it, of people who suddenly find themselves alone and a lonely, enraging and eccentric woman trying to cling onto youth and possibly experiencing the early stages of dementia. Susie has an ability to pinpoint in a few sentences the personality of the people she meets so that you feel you almost know them too. Oh if we could see ourselves as others see us! I have read all of Susie’s books and this is as good as the others. PS I can only hope that the bit about the naturists is exaggerated for comic effect!” J Daniels

Buy Kindle or paperback version from your local Amazon: here 

Order paperback from bookstores worldwide.  ISBN:  978-0993092282

Published in 2013 by Blackbird Books

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I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry

Publisher’s description: “Susie recalls a 1950s childhood in post-war London’s every shade of grey and the splendours of Africa as, with her glamorous mother and father, she boards a ship bound for exotic, technicolor Kenya. Then in its final decade as a colony, Kenya was peopled with larger-than-life characters who had helped to forge its identity. There, with the threats of the Mau Mau uprising ever-present, Susie’s life disintegrates at break-neck speed into a web of jealousy, rejection and casual cruelty.

Each time it seems things cannot get any worse, they do as the popular travel author lifts the lid on her own, often shocking, behaviour in her quest to protect herself and those she loves. Rebellious, lonely and self-destructive, it is a small grey horse named Cinderella who saves Susie from herself and brings her the love she craves.

Readers will shed a tear at her losses and laugh at her predicaments in this sometimes hilarious, often heartbreaking, true story that gives a moving and often shocking insight in to the earlier life of the author famed for her humour and her honesty.”

A Child Called It meets Out Of Africa in this stunning memoir of a woman’s 1950s childhood in Kenya. Filled with candid humor and insights, this authentic tale captures one woman’s incredible coming-of-age journey.” BookBub

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“Modestly described as ‘a memoir of life in post-war London, colonial and post-colonial Kenya, and a dysfunctional family’, I must admit I was interested because I was also living in Kenya at the same time as Susie, during the difficult and dangerous transition to independence.

I was delighted with the evocative details on almost every page that took me right back to my childhood. What I didn’t expect was to be put through every emotion from laugh-out-loud humour to heart-wrenching sadness. This is a wonderful recollection of a fascinating life – yet also a story which Susie admits was very difficult for her to write.

One of the unusual benefits of reading on a Kindle is the option to see what other readers have highlighted – and one of the most frequent was the poignant line ‘when people suffer terrible losses they need to have an opportunity to talk about them.’

This book had me gripped from the first page and left me feeling quite emotional at the end. Susie wins my ‘best book of the year’ without hesitation for the quality of her writing and the honesty and truth which makes it such a great read. I highly recommend I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry and happily award a rare five out of five stars”  Tony

Buy Kindle or paperback version from your local Amazon: here 

Order paperback from bookstores worldwide:  ISBN 978-0993092220

Published in 2014 by Blackbird Books

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The Lazy Cook (Book One):

Quick and Easy Meatless Meals: the funniest cookbook, ever 

Publisher’s description: “The popular travel author’s delightful round-up of her favourite quick, simple, easy meat-free recipes, sprinkled with anecdote and humour.

Susie makes no claims to being a cooking queen. She admits that over the years she has made every cookery mistake possible, including pouring hot oil back into a plastic bottle and watching the bottle melt and flood most of the kitchen. Then there was the great icing sugar misunderstanding….  but in The Lazy Cook she has put together an irresistible collection of the tasty, comfort-food recipes that are enjoyed by her family and friends, spattered with generous blobs of funny.”

fiveoffive.JPG“She enhances the recipes by enclosing them in entertaining stories which make them memorable. This got me thinking that recipes may be closer to favorite poems or stories that one re-tells rather than science experiments.”  US reader Frank Hubeny

Buy Kindle or paperback version from your local Amazon: here 

Order paperback from bookstores worldwide: ISBN 978-0993092220

Published in 2015 by Blackbird Books

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The Lazy Cook (Book Two)

Quick and Easy Sweet Treats 

Publisher’s description: “I like a dessert to make me feel slightly guilty about eating it, but not enough to make me stop.” Susie Kelly

The 2nd instalment of the travel author’s delightful round-ups of her favourite quick, simple, easy recipes, sprinkled with anecdote and humour.

Susie makes no claims to being a cooking queen. She admits that over the years she has made every cookery mistake possible, including pouring hot oil back into a plastic bottle and watching the bottle melt and flood most of the kitchen. Then there was the great icing sugar misunderstanding…. but in The Lazy Cook she has put together an irresistible collection of the tasty, comfort-food recipes that are enjoyed by her family and friends, spattered with generous blobs of anecdote and humour.

Quick & Easy Sweet Treats follows on from The Lazy Cook Book 1: Quick & Easy Meatless Meals.

One of those rare cookery books that won’t be left on the shelf, but will mature with well-thumbed age as its pages become patterned with stains of food, wine, cream, butter and all things delicious

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“This book is a must for everyone who loves desserts. I enjoy cooking and am quite happy to slave over a stove for a long time, if necessary to make a special dessert, however, I could not believe how many quick and easy desserts there are. Inside this amazing book you will find pages of recipes, some using only a couple of ingredients and many which can be made a day or so in advance.

The classic Eaton Mess which can be made in moments, light and tempting desserts which can be whipped up in minutes and others like the evil Malakoff which look incredible, but are really quite simple and quick to prepare. Included is also a wonderful ice-cream recipe which has variations to suit any taste. To complete this gem of a book, the author has also included hot desserts, sweets, baking recipes and even some delicious drinks.”  Susan Keefe

Download your *FREE* Kindle version, or buy paperback from your local Amazon: here 

Not yet available to order from bookstores.

Published in 2015 by Blackbird Books

4 thoughts on “My books

  1. I Susie! I’ve just discovered your blog, and will certainly be dipping into the books. I live part time in Normandy myself, surrounded by horses! The rest of the time I’m struggling to make sense of things in Greece. Slightly schizophrenic but never boring.

    • Hi to you – sorry I couldn’t find a name anywhere, so I’ll call you M.L. 🙂

      Glad to have found your blog – lovely watercolours, you are talented. I’ll enjoy following your life in Greece and Normandy. 🙂

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