The Twenty

One Woman’s Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

Non-Fiction - Memoir
328 Pages
Reviewed on 05/14/2023
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Author Biography

Marianne Bohr is a freelance writer and former travel blogger for the Huffington Post. Three of her travel essays received Solas Awards from travel publisher, Travelers’ Tales, honoring excellence in travel writing. Her first book, Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer Adventure Across 21 Countries, was published by She Writes Press in 2015. Kirkus Reviews said about her book, “Bohr shines…providing glimpses of herself as a whole person, not simply a traveler. Gap Year Girl is an excellent choice…a travelogue filled with historic places, but its personal stories provide its highlights.”

Her second book, The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail, published in 2023, tells the story of hiking across the French island with her husband to celebrate their 60th birthdays.

Me Llamo Mariana, an essay which celebrates the author’s Hispanic heritage, is included in Solamente en San Miguel, Volume III, 2017, an anthology about the extraordinary city of San Miguel De Allende, Mexico.

Marianne lives in Park City, UT, where after decades in publishing, and then many years teaching middle school French, she skis, hikes, and writes.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

The Twenty: One Woman’s Trek across Corsica on the GR20 Trail by Marianne C. Bohr is an inspirational tale of persistence, drive, courage, and love that will touch the hearts of many and perhaps even motivate some to experience new adventures. Marianne and her husband were about to turn sixty and were determined to experience all they could in their retirement. Lifelong hikers, they resolved to attempt their toughest challenge yet by walking the infamous GR20 Trail which winds over the rugged mountains on the island of Corsica. Although they trained assiduously for this adventure, nothing could prepare them for the degree of difficulty they would face on this treacherous trek. With a guide and a small team of like-minded adventurers, Marianne and her husband Joe were as ready for this challenge as they could be but a shocking diagnosis from the doctor just before the trip had Marianne questioning her ability to complete the journey. Nevertheless, these two “seniors” were determined to give this trail their best shot. Along the way, they would make lifelong friends, and test the bonds of their love and marriage.

The Twenty appealed to me in many ways because the age of the pair is similar to my own and I found myself in awe of their commitment to both each other and the monumental challenge they had set themselves. Marianne C. Bohr brings an intimately personal touch to this memoir. She is not afraid to open herself up to introspection and criticize herself for her failings and, despite her often appearing overly self-critical, it is easy to empathize and feel her frustrations and anger, especially at the silent invader that is slowly robbing her of her ability to do the thing she loves so passionately. There is an underlying current of humor throughout the book which helped to keep the participants on course despite the sometimes harsh and unforgiving conditions they faced. More than a book about a trek across unforgiving terrain, this memoir is full of warmth, joy, and an unceasing zest for life which readers cannot help but be caught up in. For all of us approaching or reaching those senior years, this is a clarion call that life does not end at sixty. I salute Marianne and Joe and the magnificent achievement that they shared with us in this story. The writing style is conversational and carries the reader from one exciting, dangerous challenge to the next. Readers will soar with Marianne’s successes and feel deeply for her failures. This is a fantastic read and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Foluso Falaye

In The Twenty: One Woman’s Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail, Marianne C. Bohr shares stories from her hiking journey on the GR 20 trail in Corsica. She also looks back at her life and the insecurities she had to overcome as an overweight child in a religious Catholic home. As they were about to turn 60, Marianne and her husband decided to celebrate in style and spend months in training to prepare for a daring hike. However, despite their months of training, they found the trail far more arduous than anticipated. They endured several challenges, from struggling with a frightening diagnosis to contemplating questions about what they can still do physically at their age and battling vertigo. Fortunately, their journey was also filled with wonderful, memorable treasures, including connecting with new friends, swapping stories, learning about the history and culture of Corsica, and trying new, tasty dishes.

Marianne C. Bohr's growth follows the path of a shy, insecure character that transitions to an adventurous risk-taker, and her vivid writing in The Twenty reflects the promising, unpredictable footpaths of GR 20. The book includes such disparate topics as herbs, health, aging, loss, history, family, religion, and even a hiker's goat-like vigor. Marianne also shines a light on finding your voice, despite constantly hearing other people's negative comments about you. We also get a graphic account of the paths the hikers take and the things they see. You will feel as if you're on the trail with them. The book is a reminder of the importance of taking time to physically experience the world around us and keeping our body active - an important message in a world that's heavily influenced by technology. Thank you, Marianne, for showing me the meaning of being truly alive, brave, and adventurous.

Christine Nguyen

The Twenty: One Woman’s Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail is an adrenaline-filled ride that every traveler and adventurer will relish. Marianne C. Bohr not only takes us across the physical landscapes of Corsica but also delves into the emotional and psychological realms of aging and relationships. Bohr and her husband Joe are baby boomers that have been married for 35 years. They decide to do something momentous to celebrate turning 60 and retirement, so they embark on the GR20, considered Europe’s most arduous and challenging hike. Bohr writes captivating and gritty descriptions of the 14-day rigorous hike where we root for her and Joe from the start.

You feel as if you are on the journey on The Twenty with the whole group feeling sore and exhausted every morning from the rigors of their arduous day to rejoicing as they make camp each night enjoying delicious Corsican wine and rustic meals. I was engaged from the first page, and I did not want to put the book down as I followed Bohr’s physical and emotional journey as she discovered more about herself. I especially liked that she weaves her past in with her present so we come to understand her better. Marianne C. Bohr proves that although aging may be inevitable, age cannot limit an adventurous and brave soul! I truly loved reading every page and felt emotional and reflective about the enduring life lessons covered. A truly inspiring memoir.

Asher Syed

In The Twenty: One Woman’s Journey Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail by Marianne C. Bohr, the author recounts the harrowing adventure she embarked on with her husband Joe. Bohr and her husband have always enjoyed seeking new experiences, particularly those that push their bodies to the limits. Thus, they chose to hike one of the most challenging trails in Europe, the GR 20 in Corsica. Covering 124 miles of rugged terrain, the trail includes steep ascents and descents, remote mountain passes, and the challenge of hiking with strangers. Although Bohr was initially apprehensive about the daunting trail, she was determined to prove to herself that she could complete it at the age of sixty, despite her rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.

The Twenty by Marianne C. Bohr is a beautifully written memoir that takes the reader on a journey across the breathtaking yet treacherous Corsican landscapes. What sets this book apart is how Bohr's backstory influenced her adult life. As the oldest of eleven children in a devoutly Catholic household, she was expected to be an educated domestic goddess without athletic ambitions. However, her love for Joe challenged these expectations, and they set out on a life of adventure together. Their imperfect yet loving relationship is an inspiration to us all, and Bohr portrays how even the most significant challenges can lead to profound learning experiences. This reflective memoir encourages readers to accept their limitations while also exploring the boundaries they impose on their lives. It is a must-read for anyone seeking inspiration to push beyond their own limitations and explore life's possibilities.

Jamie Michele

The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail is a memoir and travelogue by Marianne C. Bohr. In the book, Bohr recounts how she and her husband Joe celebrated their upcoming 60th birthdays by hiking across the Mediterranean island of Corsica in 2016. They aimed to complete the challenging 124-mile hike along the Grande Randonée number 20, colloquially known as The Twenty, to recapture some of the memories and feelings of youth that they had experienced while backpacking around Europe in their younger years. The memoir documents each day of the journey, offering insight into what it means to be growing older and the reality that while there are limitations, there are also alternative ways to the successful completion of an objective.

My grandmother once told me that the worst part of aging is that she became invisible. She has a story about shopping for lingerie at a high-end retailer and was asked who she was buying a gift for. The thirty-something-year-old sales associate could not comprehend that she was buying lovely undies for herself. I recalled this while reading The Twenty by Marianne C. Bohr, and even though hiking to the third floor of a mall isn't the same as the GR20, the fact of Bohr challenging unflattering views on aging felt personal to me. Bohr and Joe's multi-month training for the hike was accomplished, dramatically strengthening their bodies, minds, and spirits. Her writing describes Corsica's rugged terrain in an almost cinematic portrayal, its stunning beauty, and the hazards it poses. Bohr shares candid insight on her past experiences and how they have helped her to evolve as a person, and the great, good, and not-so-good aspects of a life shared in a three-decade-plus partnership with Joe. The Twenty is a valuable read for anyone seeking inspiration for personal growth and change. It highlights the potential for transformation and serves as a testament to the power of perseverance. Very highly recommended.