The Walking Tour is a 2000 novel by Kathryn Davis. This one took effort. I kept thinking I'd missed something, but going back through what I'd already read proved that wasn't the case. Not a typical novel in characters or structure, but an interesting read. Just don't expect it to be an easy one. There's a Reader's Guide here.
from the back of the book:
Two couples -businessman Bobby Rose and his artist wife, Carole Ridingham; his partner, Coleman Snow, and Snow's wife, Ruth Farr- have gone on a walking tour in Wales, during which a fatal accident occurs. The question of what happened preoccupies not only an ensuing negligence trial but also the narrator, Bobby and Carole's daughter, Susan, who lives alone in her parents' house near the coast of Maine. Assisted by court transcripts, a notebook computer containing Ruth Farr's journal, and a young vagrant who has taken to camping on her doorstep. Susan lays open the moral predicament at the heart of the book: we are culpable beings, even though we live in a world of imperfect knowledge.I got a kick out of this quote: "Was David by chance a Methodist? Fairies hated Methodists even more than they hated rowan trees." There's reference to one of my favorite fairy tales, The Fisherman and His Wife; you can you can read that folk tale online here.
The New York Times concludes,
''The Walking Tour'' is brilliant and sometimes unbearable and leaves almost no room for readers to insert themselves into its text. Wherever you go on this trip, you feel that the author has been there before you and built a dolmen, which is exactly what postmodern types criticize modernists for -- as Davis knows, and lets you know she knows. She also, charmingly, lets you know that she doesn't give a damn.Salon says,
The effect of the two intertwining narratives is an epistemological hide-and-seek in which the storytelling often conceals as much as it reveals. But it's well worth embracing the book's intricacies: Though Davis takes obvious pleasure in playing out her novel's dense setup, there is nothing rarefied about her precise and often epigrammatic prose.The Boston Review concludes, ""Modern poetry," E. M. Forster once remarked, "is obscure and minatory." Much the same could be said of Davis’s intricate and bracingly poetic novel. ... Her new book is like a strange glittering weapon hanging in the void. It’s hard to know what to do with it, but it’s impossible to ignore." Publishers Weekly calls it "a witty blend of genres: mystery, courtroom drama, futuristic tale and a reworking of Welsh myth" and says, "The playfulness of Davis's writing is irresistible. Laced with fairy tales, neologisms and poems, her prose is clever, sometimes dazzling, skating lightly over complex ideas that otherwise might bog down the narrative."