Monday, March 30, 2009

Review: Queen of the Road

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion
4.5 stars

Reasons for reading: I read some good reviews of it and it sounded fun; travel-themed book for the Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge (and, as Doreen pointed out in the comments on my WSR post, it's also a cookbook - each chapter starts out with a drink recipe!)

Description: "A pampered Long Island princess hits the road in a converted bus with her wilderness-loving husband, travels the country for one year, and brings it all hilariously to life in this offbeat and romantic memoir.Doreen and Tim are married psychiatrists with a twist: She’s a self-proclaimed Long Island princess, grouchy couch potato, and shoe addict. He's an affable, though driven, outdoorsman. When Tim suggests “chucking it all” to travel cross-country in a converted bus, Doreen asks, “Why can’t you be like a normal husband in a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?” But she soon shocks them both, agreeing to set forth with their sixty-pound dog, two querulous cats—and no agenda—in a 340-square-foot bus.Queen of the Road is Doreen’s offbeat and romantic tale about refusing to settle; about choosing the unconventional road with all the misadventures it brings (fire, flood, armed robbery, and finding themselves in a nudist RV park, to name just a few). The marvelous places they visit and delightful people they encounter have a life-changing effect on all the travelers, as Doreen grows to appreciate the simple life, Tim mellows, and even the pets pull together. Best of all, readers get to go along for the ride through forty-seven states in this often hilarious and always entertaining memoir, in which a boisterous marriage of polar opposites becomes stronger than ever."

Favourite passage: Doreen wonders to her husband if they should join the ranks of RV-ers who have a sign that says their names, hometown, and has a little logo showing their hobbies - like a bowling pin or fishing rod. "But Tim said no, since depicting my favourite pastimes would entail a logo of a bed and a credit card and result in our imminent arrest for solicitation."

My thoughts:
I couldn't decide how many stars to give this book. I was thinking 4, maybe 4 1/4, but the longer it took me to write the review, the more I realized that I've been telling my husband bits from it many times over the 2 or so weeks its been since I finished it, which I think is a really good sign - I obviously remembered stuff and I thought it was good enough to share. I might even have him read it - we're planning a (much shorter!) road trip in the summer and it really got me in the travellin' mood.

Like Doreen, I couldn't fathom the idea of living on a bus for a year when I started the book but, I have to say, after reading it, it sounds like wonderful journeys are possible if you take time off to just explore with the person you love most. I still don't know if I'd manage - I'm really not a camping/RV-ing person, but Doreen's descriptions of how she came to realize that she didn't need all kinds of stuff, that the outdoors could actually be fun, and that it's having experiences and connecting with people that's really important in life certainly made me think about it. I wonder what I'd learn about myself on such a trip?

And the travelogue part is so great - I now want to visit Wall Drug in South Dakota and find some of the great restaurants they ate at. And Key West sounds like a delightfully bizarre place, from her descriptions. I had no idea that there's basically a huge thrift store where they sell the unclaimed luggage from American airports. And, like Doreen, I too think of the Mall of America as Mecca. :-) I liked that she included some references (mostly web sites) at the end to help the reader find some of the highlights of their trip.

The verdict: A fun, funny, interesting book that may make you think about your own priorities in life. And I think Doreen and Tim would be great fun to have dinner with! :-)


Lisa said...

I have this one. Knowing they go through South Dakota makes me want to get to it sooner.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

It's one of their first stops, I think! :)

Stephanie said...

I agree - Queen of the Road is just a fun book! Plus, I didn't know about the store to pick through unclaimed luggage - crazy!

Melissa said...

Sounds like fun. I always like travel books that make you want to visit the place when you're done!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Stephanie - Exactly, who knew? :)

Melissa - It's definitely lots of fun. I'm not normally into nonfiction but I think I need to start reading more travel books.