4 of 5 stars
“Ben Hatch is on the road again. Commissioned to write a guidebook about France (despite not speaking any French) he sets off with visions of relaxing chateaux and refined dining. Ten thousand miles later his family’s been attacked by a donkey, had a run-in with a death-cult and, after a near drowning and a calamitous wedding experience involving a British spy, his own marriage is in jeopardy. A combination of obsessions about mosquitoes, French gravel and vegetable theme parks mean it’s a bumpy ride as Ben takes a stand against tyrannical French pool attendants, finds himself running with the bulls in Pamplona and almost starring in a snuff movie after a near fatal decision to climb into a millionaire’s Chevrolet Blazer.
Funny and poignant, Road to Rouen asks important questions about life, marriage and whether it’s ever acceptable to tape baguette to your children’s legs to smuggle lunch into Disneyland Paris.”
I was provided with a free copy of this book as part of a Twitter travel book club.
Ben Hatch has the task of writing a guide book about France. Packing his family into the family car and letting out the house, the Hatch family set off on what they think will be a dignified and pleasant family trip around the French countryside. The scrapes, adventures and misadventures that Ben, his wife Dinah and children get up to on the Road to Rouen are perhaps not all that they envisaged…
I enjoy a good travelogue. I find it a brilliant way of finding out about other countries and about the people taking those trips. Sometimes it’s about living vicariously through others. We may have all dreamed of giving it all up for a small house in a sunny climate or taking a few months off work to travel but how many of us would actually do it? The Road to Rouen introduces you to places that you would probably never knew existed in France. Some you may want to visit, others, the vegetable theme park for example, you may want to skip. I found this a great introduction to the little known areas of France.
However it was also more than just a story about a road trip. In fact is was more about the Hatch family, how Ben and Dinah’s relationship fared under the stresses and strains of a long road trip in the confined space of a smelly Passat. It was also interesting to see how the trip brought the family together, how major decisions were made and how the journey allowed the children to flourish.
What I can’t fail to mention is how funny this book is. I could often be heard laughing out loud to some passage or other, in fact more often than not. I would try to explain a funny excerpt to my husband, this becoming more difficult as I started to laugh even more and usually the situation would just end with me in tears of laughter and him shaking his head at me. A few highlights were the donkey ride, the canoe trip and the one that has me laughing even now as I remember it, the infamous trip to Disneyland.
If you are looking for a funny, moving, light-hearted read then this book could be right up your road!