‘Walk This Way’ is a novel in the genre of women’s contemporary fiction and is set in England, starting in 1979.
Joe was homeless; he had dropped out of university and, although he wouldn’t class himself as an addict, he dabbled in drugs. Nobody knew why he had randomly dragged a stranger off the street that November night in 1979. Joe certainly didn’t know; he just knew that he hadn’t planned it. Lily, his mother, had recognised, for a while, that her beloved son wasn’t in a good place, but to mug and virtually kidnap this girl was disturbingly out of character. Maisie, his victim, had often asked herself why me? Ultimately, it was this compelling need to understand Joe’s motives that propelled her into a relationship that was to affect her life. Both the immediate trauma of her ordeal and the long-term effects that trailed Joe were to shape her thoughts, her decisions and her desires.
For months, nobody knew that Joe and Maisie had slid into a passionate relationship and when it became common knowledge, nobody could fathom the attraction for either of them. Joe was the ever charming drifter and Maisie, beautiful and popular, who was prepared to use flirting to manipulate the men in her life. She was six years older and an academic with a very different life-style. Only Joe and Maisie knew of their togetherness, their laughter and the irresistible sexual bond between them.
In hindsight, was it inevitable that it would all unravel? Maisie didn’t know but she did know how hard she had struggled to keep Joe in her life.
Years later, content with her husband and long-time friend, Will, she encounters Joe unexpectedly and is plunged back into the thrill of uncertainty and desire. She experiences once again the chaotic effect of Joe’s erratic behaviour and when he is eventually diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, his pulsating highs and numbing lows begin to make sense.
When Joe is sectioned Maisie struggles to find a way to help him. Pregnant, fearful of the reaction of her patient husband and terrified for Joe, she is driven by a deep need to help him. Could the knowledge that she is pregnant with Joe’s child be the trigger to save him? Should she risk destroying all she has with Will and reveal the truth? Every part of her longs to cling to Joe but, ultimately, she knows she must, for once, do the unselfish thing and step away. She has to accept that she must allow Joe to fight his own battles as she comes to terms with the devastating realisation that she is not what he needs.
Their story ends with Maisie’s vividly disturbing dream. She is at Joe’s funeral and in dream or reality she knows he is lost to her forever.