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  • Published: 2 July 2024
  • ISBN: 9781787335028
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $34.99

A Short Walk Through a Wide World

IF YOU COULD NEVER STAY, WHERE WOULD YOU GO? The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue meets The Midnight Library in this life-affirming debut novel of adventure, wonder and self-discovery.

Paris, 1885: Aubry Tourvel, a spoiled and stubborn nine-year-old girl, comes across a wooden puzzle ball on her walk home from school. She tosses it over the fence, only to find it in her satchel that evening. Days later, at the family dinner table, she is stricken by a mysterious illness.

When a visit to a doctor only makes her worse, she flees to the outskirts of the city, where she discovers it is this very act of movement that keeps her alive. So begins her incredible lifelong journey on the run from her condition.

From the scorched dunes of the Calanshio Sand Sea, to the snow-packed peaks of the Himalayas; from a bottomless well in a Parisian courtyard, to the shelves of an infinite underground library, we follow Aubry as she learns what it takes to survive and, ultimately, to truly live. But the longer she wanders, the more she understands that the world she travels through may not be quite the same as everyone else’s…

  • Published: 2 July 2024
  • ISBN: 9781787335028
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $34.99

About the author

Douglas Westerbeke

Douglas Westerbeke is a librarian who lives in Ohio and works at one of the largest libraries in the US. He has spent the last decade on the local panel of the International Dublin Literary Award, which inspired him to write his own book.

Praise for A Short Walk Through a Wide World

That rare book that immediately becomes a dear friend… beautiful… This is a novel that asks what it is to love the world, and what it is for the world to love us. A grand adventure that begs to be revisited again and again

ERIKA SWYLER, author of The Book of Speculation and Light From Other Stars

A wild romping adventure, a poignant tale of relationships and interconnectedness, and a compelling journey of self-discovery. A Short Walk Through a Wide World is utterly engrossing, a world - worlds - to get lost in... every reader will find something to love

Shelf Awareness

A gorgeous ode to wanderlust... Douglas Westerbeke's dazzling debut takes readers on a thought-provoking journey through cultures and timelines...and also, through a mysterious cave-bound library. I savored every page of this book!

SHELBY VAN PELT, bestselling author of Remarkably Bright Creatures

A one-of-a-kind love letter to nature, humanity, and the stories we all carry within ourselves. Westerbeke’s engrossing, assured debut will enchant fans of Erin Morgenstern and Alix Harrow

Booklist (starred review)

Enthralling... Capturing each moment of Aubry’s sweeping odyssey with extraordinary vividness, Westerbeke’s poignant epic speaks to the challenges of knowing oneself and others in a world of endless change. This is unforgettable

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Readers of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab and Life of Pi by Yann Martel will fall in love with Aubry. Librarian Westerbeke’s debut is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys armchair travel and stories that open wide to embrace every experience

Library Journal (starred review)

A shining story...with exciting twists and prose that feels like legend, this is an essential read for anyone looking to renew their lust for life. Perfect for fans of Matt Haig and V.E. Schwab

Most Anticipated Debut Novels of 2024, Barnes & Noble

An incredible, dazzling debut... I’ve never read anything like it

Thoughts From a Page podcast

Sharing a shelf with philosophical adventure novels like The Midnight Library and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Westerbeke’s debut thoughtfully explores the effects of being forced to live only in the present

Washington Post (10 Noteworthy Books for April)

An epic adventure… rich with all the possibilities the world can hold


This whirlwind fever dream of a novel races around the globe, through markets, deserts and cities, across oceans, over mountains, into the caverns of a vast underground library, chasing its extraordinary protagonist, Aubry Tourvel... Welcome to her exciting, dangerous and romantic life

Oprah Daily

Westerbeke's extraordinary debut spans decades, unfolding via stories told by Aubry to those she meets while circumnavigating the globe... Striking set pieces, stunning character work and evocative, insightful prose make every page worth savouring. A hopeful tale of improbable friendships, whirlwind romances and unexpected joy

Kirkus Reviews

This is a ravishing, deeply human book that’s in love with the world, with people, with the new — and yet is infused with a deep, futile longing for home