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The Driving Force of Friendship, or The Wrong End of the Gun by Lorna Ritchie and Godfrey Spencer

This tale of two friends and their road trips together touched me deeply. Over several years the narrator, Lorna, and her passenger, Godfrey, travelled by car across Germany and France, en route to and from various retreats and courses as part of their work as trainers in Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

During these journeys they learnt so much about each other and about themselves and their experiences together are reflected on deeply through the lens of NVC. There is humour, fun, irritation, frustration, and ultimately, a growth of deep unconditional love.

It is a brave book. Both the narrator and her companion often bare their souls to each other and to us, their readers, and share painful experiences of past suffering. There are tears and laughter in equal measure. It is brave also because they face conflict head-on when it occurs between them, as it inevitably does on those long and tiring trips.

This is a book which will appeal to those familiar with Nonviolent Communication and contains much to reflect on as the two travellers learn from their experiences in ways that will be all too familiar. It is also a book that will teach those new to the subject just how profoundly NVC can and will impact on the minutiae of day-to-day interactions with friends, family and colleagues.

However I believe this is also a book that can be enjoyed by people with neither experience of, nor interest in, NVC because fundamentally it is a story about friendship. It is a story about what friendship can mean when neither side runs away if the going gets tough – at least not for too long! . Indeed at one point they DID run away from the challenges they faced – challenges brought about by writing this very book in fact. But as the French adage goes – ‘Il faut reculer pour meiux sauter’ – sometimes one has to draw back in order to jump in deeper. There is no doubting the depth of the connection between Lorna and Godfrey, and I for one am grateful for this remarkable celebration of friendship.

–Dr. Belinda Hopkins, Director of Transforming Conflict,

I read this book as if I’d been a stowaway in the car with Lorna and Godfrey. I savoured driving with them through different countries and landscapes, cities and towns while eavesdropping their amazing and entertaining conversations. A car journey lasting many hours, days and even years proves to have been the ideal setting to really get to know each other. Perhaps sitting in a confined space and not actually looking at each other allowed for such heightened openness.

This book turns out to be not just a biography of Godfrey’s life but also an autobiography of Lornas. Two fascinating people of different genders, generations and backgrounds yet sharing so many overlapping stories covering their childhood, war experiences and what initially brought them together- their passion for teaching and living Nonviolent Communication (NVC). They had ample chance to put NVC into practice during those long drives. Lorna’s British/Irish humour spices the pages with giggles and smiles yet the book not only reveals the easy going fun times they shared while teasing and joking with each other but also being able to quarrel, disagree and discuss their vulnerable feelings on certain more delicate topics. As a fellow NVC enthusiast (and trainer) I found so much food for thought nurturing me.

The title of the book “the driving force of friendship” couldn’t be more apt. The force here is based on honesty, humour and love. What a pleasure to read and experience this special friendship.

–Sara Hartmann, certified trainer nonviolent communication CNVC