The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette 2015

The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette 2015

3.84 (293 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 11-16 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.


Susie has already walked across France 900km solo from La Rochelle to Geneva (Best Foot Forward) and driven the entire circumference of France (Travels With Tinkerbelle), but cyclist she is not. By suggesting an electric bicycle to get her through the worst of the uphill slogs, her husband persuades her that a cycling holiday travelling on 2 wheels is by far the best way to see the virtually undocumented part of France they plan to explore. And so their cycling holiday begins, and, with not a few mishaps and misgivings, it turns out. In 3 weeks Susie and Terry cycle 500 miles in the little-explored Champagne region of northern France, dining sometimes in luxury and often on weird makeshift meals in their tent. After a hair-raising journey through Paris that nearly ends in her own execution by traffic, Susie finds an area of calm waterways and tranquil countryside bursting with history. Idyllic territory for cyclists. Her route takes her from Versailles 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.
Along the way there are traumas, epiphanies, occasional matrimonial disagreements and the odd glass of champagne. Keeping up appearances amongst the petite, chic French at some of Susie's more luxurious stops creates some serious fashion moments, tempered, as always, by Susie's good humor and resilience.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 214 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 12.45mm | 317.51g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0993092292
  • 9780993092299
  • 967,081

Table of contents

Introduction Chapter 1 - Paris Chapter 2 - Versailles Chapter 3 - Small is Beautiful, Less is More Chapter 4 - The City of Blood Chapter 5 - Cheese and Millstones Chapter 6 - An Abundance of Railway Stations Chapter 7 - The City of Effervescence Chapter 8 - A Small Epiphany in the Catalaunian Fields Chapter 9 - Tunnel Trauma, Nocturnal Noise Chapter 10 - A Lame Duck and a Second Epiphany Chapter 11 - No More Champagne Chapter 12 - The Threshold of Hell Chapter 13 - Being Difficult Chapter 14 - A Tall Dark Stranger Chapter 15 - With Their Heads Held High Chapter 16 - Tourists Chapter 17 - Having A Good Time - Don't Stop Me Now! Chapter 18 - The Longest Mile Chapter 19 - The Lottery of Life Bibliography
show more

Review quote

"There are a handful of authors who achieve that elusive trick of making you laugh out loud. For me it's James Herriot, Bill Bryson and Susie Kelly." French Entree Magazine; "This book manages to combine history, humor and the best of travel writing all in one." US reader; "This was a trip I enjoyed taking through Susie Kelly's eyes, both for what I learned about the area of France she traveled, and the history involved. My backside and the muscles in my legs were much happier doing it this way, too." Big Al's Books & Pals; "A wonderful combination of travel memoir, funny anecdotes with the added bonus of weaving throughout an easily digestible history lesson." UK reader; "This is a book I could read again and again." US reader; "As someone who enjoys reading about travel on foot or bicycle I can say its as good as any I've read and is a massively entertaining and satisfying read." US reader; "When it's funny it's laugh-out-loud funny, and when it's sad it is heart-breaking." UK reader; "This book manages to combine history, humor & the best of travel writing all in one." US reader; "Travel humor that makes you cry as well. Quite something!" US reader; "Susie rides again! Susie has done it again. This is a thoroughly entertaining read combining self deprecating honest comments with lesser known historical tales and anecdotes." UK reader; Just loved it! In the first chapter I thought the pace was so entertaining and interesting that it would not be possible for the book to keep it up...but it does. Fun and full of detail. US reader
show more

About Susie Kelly

Born a Londoner, Susie spent most of the first 25 years of her life in Kenya. In 2014, her memoir I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry about an abusive childhood growing up in post-war London and Kenya, was a US digital bestseller. She now lives in south-west France with her husband and assorted animals.She believes that her explosive temper is a legacy from her Irish-American grandfather, but has no idea who to blame for her incompetence as a housewife. Susie Kelly is the Patron of the 2015 Charroux International Literary Festival.
show more

Rating details

293 ratings
3.84 out of 5 stars
5 31% (92)
4 33% (96)
3 27% (80)
2 5% (16)
1 3% (9)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X