If you dream of taking a long road tour and writing a good book about it, here is a good model to follow. I picked it up at Prose in the Park where I bought local memoirs that might improve my own writing in the same genre. Lucy’s Road Trip by award-winning author Louise Szabo stands out for these reasons:
Vehicle as Lead Character
- If you are going to make a 8088-mile road trip, you have to obey the terms and whims of the vehicle that carries you. Giving the RV a name and titling the book after her makes this clear. In this case it is a 24-ft Class C RV with a diesel engine priced at $17,000 and purchased with $100 down. Its former owner left it filthy and stinky so the first challenge was to scrub it. The second was to fall in love because you realize it will fulfill your dreams comfortably and affordably. Coverage from Coast to Coast
- The reader gets a full drive from coast to coast, not just westward from Ottawa where Louise and Charlie Szabo live. Before heading northwest, they rode 2168 miles east with their eight-year-old granddaughter Lisa to go to their daughter’s remarriage in Ile Madame, Cape Breton. Szabo entertains us with anecdotes of child travel, local characters, a wedding and parties in Islander fashion.
Easy Writing Style
- Szabo’s writing is clear and precise, using deft word constructions to depict how she feels and what’s happening. Sentences and chapters are short; chapter titles are creative and amusing.
- Forty-nine pictures of places they saw include Nigadoo, NB, Pancake Bay and Kakeba Falls, ON, a pasture field in MN, Invernay and a canola field in SK, the Edmonton Mall, the Rockies, Jasper Park, the Columbia Ice Field and Medicine Hat in AB, Dawson Creek and Watson Lake, BC, Miles Canyon and the Kaskawulch Glacier in Kluane National Park, YK. Lucy keeps popping up like any attention-grabbing child, but that is appropriate. Much time is usurped to muffle rattles, pick up spilled fridge and cupboard contents when doors fly open, deal with water leaks and sewage backups, etc. The worst is when Lucy suffers a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. Louise spends hours sitting inside her in a garage bay because she has nowhere else to go.
Themes and Threads of Plot
- The book’s theme is the quest to see where Louise’s father served as an RCMP officer in the thirties, to see majestic scenery and a bear. She succeeds in all three. On page 144, in the middle of a 700-mile dash to get to a dental appointment in Smithers, BC on time, she writes: “Charlie drove as fast as he dared, slowing down slightly at the curves and ignoring all potholes. I hung on tight to my armrest and asked the angels that there be little traffic along the way. I barely had time to admire some of the most spectacular scenery in British Columbia. “Around a bend, low and behold, there was my bear. We’d surprised a cub eating on the side of the road and he scooted up a tree, his mouth full of the grass. We were driving so darn fast that before I realized it we’d flashed by the bear and I wondered if it was an illusion. I closed my eyes and set the scene back to rewind in slow motion. Yes indeed, I’d seen my bear. Barely!”
Underlying Contentment with What One Has
- What the author values most becomes evident as she travels and writes:
- closeness with her granddaughter and delight in seeing her develop
- little expressions of affection as the couple learns to get along in a small space while being constantly in each other’s company
- helpfulness at the campsites when fellow travellers share advice, such as what guide books to use (the Milepost), how to get emergency help (join Sam’s Club) and how to protect their vehicle against hazards such as flying stones smashing the windshield. Duct tape is the most important item to have on an RV.
- sitting by quiet lakes and on mountain tops to absorb peace and tranquility
- finding they were happier in their modest-size RV than others were in mammoth-size ones
Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!