Summary: 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. -- Broadway Books
When Doreen Orion contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in reading QUEEN OF THE ROAD, I jumped at the chance. I've seen this book popping up everywhere the past few weeks; and I thought it looked hilarious. When I read the book's description, I felt an immediate kinship to the author -- I could never in a million years imagine taking a year long bus tour across the United States! After reading the book, I can understand why she did it, but I still think she definitely qualifies as a "trooper."
This book definitely lived up to all the hype. I loved it! The book is described as an "offbeat romantic memoir," and while I wouldn't have thought to use those words -- it's just a perfect description. Not only was this book very, very funny (often times hilarious), but I was also touched by Ms. Orion's story. Over the course of a year, she figured out "the meaning of life." She even made me envious of this road trip (who'd have thought that was possible) to have this opportunity and become even closer to her husband.
I have to say that I did find that I had a lot in common with Ms. Orion, and that might be one of the reasons that I just adored this book. I, too, love shoes and have quite a few pairs; but I could also relate to many of her traveling stories and her reactions to events. I particularly saw myself in the various stories about Ms. Orion's navigational skills (or should I say lack thereof?) I was even reading pages to my husband because the stories were so much like ours.
I don't know what I enjoyed more -- the descriptions of the places that I have visited or those that I haven't been fortunate enough to see (yet.) Ms. Orion wrote with brutal honesty, and I loved that about this book. Some of the time, she wasn't thrilled with what she was visiting and those sections were amusing. I think her honesty about these situations made me appreciate even more her descriptions of the wondrous places she was able to see. I felt like I got a mini-tour of the United States while reading the pages of her book.
One of my favorite parts of the book was how she began each chapter -- with a recipe for a cocktail! In addition to some yummy recipes, she gave some humorous advice about how best to serve this drink while living in a bus for a year. Hint: she took lots of alcohol on this journey (and she needed it if you ask me.)
Another part of the book I enjoyed was the dynamics between Ms. Orion and her husband Tim. As I mentioned earlier the book was described as a "romantic memoir," and this book really was ultimately a love story. (As far as I'm concerned, she must have really loved him to even agree to go, but that's just me...) I loved seeing their evolution as a couple with the little things -- eating dinner without a tv on, working together to turn the bus around, living in such a small place, etc. I think that being together through some very trying circumstances definitely pulled them together and made their marriage stronger -- and I don't think that would be true for many couples out there.
This would make a terrific book club selection for your group! If your book club is anything like mine, this is way off the beaten path as far as books go; however, I'm sure everyone will love the book. The humor is really entertaining, and the book also has some wonderful messages in it. There's even a reading guide available to generate some discussion.
Make sure you visit the book's website. It's wonderful and you can spend quite a bit of time looking around. There are pictures from the trip as well as multi-media trailers (including one from their visit to a nudist RV park.) Ms. Orion also has a blog where you can get a taste of her writing and her sense of humor! If you go back far enough, you can even read about her road trip.
If you are interested in receiving a free copy of this book, visit the Queen of the Road website and click on the "share a thought" link on the roadsign on the right. Once you are there, just leave a comment about ANYTHING! You can mention one of your own travel experiences or your desire to do a roadtrip. You could also talk about a trip you made with your spouse/pets, books you like, my review of QUEEN OF THE ROAD, the author's website, etc. -- it's really up to you. You have until July 18th to leave a comment, and then Ms. Orion will pick a winner. Make sure you leave an e-mail address with your comment and mention that Booking Mama sent you. Unfortunately, this contest is open to U.S. and Canadian citizens only. Good luck -- it's a terrific book!
Also reviewed at:
Age 30 - A Year in Books