Lukas Zbinden lives in an old people's home. In the course of a slow journey from the third floor to the front door, he tells his new carer of the life he shared with his late wife, Emilie, and son, Markus. He also reflects on the many joys of walking and, indeed, walking as a philosophy is at the centre of this charming novel - almost a metaphor for life. In some ways this is like a mini Ulysses, but a lot shorter and a lot easier to read!
Why I liked Emilie isn't hard to understand. But I often ask myself what she got out of me. For years, I had the uncomfortable feeling that I owed her something. From all the things I boast about having never learned - shopping so as to have things in reserve, replacing shampoo and suntan lotion, tying up the papers for recycling, answering the phone, writing thank-you letters, watering the flowers, raking the garden paths, killing off the weeds, storing left-over food in freezer bags - you can easily deduce what Emilie spent her time in the house doing. For her, gardening was a pure joy - was seeing things grow. For me, it was a sore back.