Monday, May 19, 2008

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion

Hey, look, everybody. It's time for a book review! I do these, remember? I fear that my last two reads are slipping out of my memory, but hey, I just finished this one, so it's still fresh in my mind. I'll really going to get around to the other two. Really. So here we go with the first of the trio of travel writing.

Doreen Orion, a psychiatrist, was happy with her life in Boulder, CO. A self-proclaimed Long Island Princess, she was content with not only working from home but from the comfort of her own bed, collecting massive amounts of shoes and designer clothing, and bingeing on reality TV. Then her husband Tim (Not so secret identity: Project Nerd for his propensity to attempt everything from household repairs to vehicle maintenance on his own), also a psychiatrist, decided to follow his dream of touring the U.S. on a converted bus. Disarmed by her husband's cunning (she still doesn't quite know how she was persuaded to do something she wouldn't consider doing in a "million years") Orion agrees to the plan and finds herself attempting to cram all the trappings of her old life onto a bus for a year long jaunt about the country. Orion's tale of traversing the country in the bus with her husband, pets (two cats, one poodle), and one hundred pairs of shoes is laugh out loud funny, informative, and even a bit enlightening about what the true makings of the "good life" are.

Each chapter is headed up with a different martini recipe useful for laughs and self-medicating for any bus phobia that may arise. From Florida to Alaska, Orion chronicles their adventure including details of their many destinations from the tasty to the kitschy to the downright scenic. Hilarity ensues as the bus malfunctions, hikes complete with frightening birds and bugs are attempted, and appropriate nudist RV park behavior is contemplated. Orion brings her wit to the best and worst of situations.

Best of all, though, is the bigger journey Orion ends up taking as she shuffles off her old life of couch potato materialism in favor of getting out and living life instead of watching it on TV. Watching Orion progress from someone whose stuff seems to own her to someone who begins to see that there is much more to life than things as she embraces the experiences the trip has to offer her is a rewarding experience and worthwile lesson that we can all stand to learn and relearn again. For Doreen and Tim, the trip turns out to be life-changing as their priorities are rearranged to accomodate the friendships they'd been missing out on, the simple joy of getting up in the morning excited about what the day has to offer, and the quality time together that enriches their relationship.

The chapter about their trip to Tim's father's house in rural Arkansas is especially hilarious. Also very nifty... Orion includes a list (with comments!) of many of their destinations complete with website addresses and contact information to help in your own vacationing as well as a list of the books she enjoyed while on the trip and beyond. What book lover couldn't love that?

Overall - a great read that might well have you planning a road trip and maybe even considering re-arranging a few your own misguided priorities.

The book is out on June 3rd, but if you want to get an advance look check out her website where you can read an excerpt and even see some great pictures from the trip.


  1. Okay, this one's definitely going on the old wish list! Sounds like the perfect summer read. Thanks for the fabulous review, Megan!

  2. This book sounds great -- especially since I'm planning to do the same thing some day. Well, maybe not in a converted bus -- a cozy, fuel-efficient RV would be more my style -- but I do love road trips (and martinis)!

  3. It's going on my list right now! There's something about travel memoirs that really get to me - I'm usually laughing out loud early on. :)

  4. This book sounds great. I'm definitely going to check this one out.

  5. Sounds very funny! I'll add it to my TBR list. I've also just added you to my LibraryThing Bloggers page, so drop by to make sure your name and link are correct :)

  6. Megan,

    What can I say but THANK YOU! I saw your review of QUEEN OF THE ROAD on Library Thing and found you over here.

    I can't begin to tell you (OK, so maybe I'm not much of a writer, after all), how gratifying it is that you "got" it. I so wanted people to get caught up in the ride, to laugh, but I also wanted them to think and hopefully be inspired a little.

    My book tour starts June 3rd (Los Angeles, Las Vegas - the Elvis who renewed our vows in the bus is going to perform - Portland, San Fran, Oakland, Phoenix, Denver and Boulder), and if you're in the area, I hope you'll come and say hello. The specific venues/dates are listed on my website, under "appearances and events."

    Again, thank you!

  7. Debi, it is a fab summer read. Chances are I won't be doing a lot of road tripping to cool places, but at least I could travel vicariously!

    Julie, it's definitely something I'd like to try myself. Maybe not for a whole year, but long enough to see a good slice of the country!

    Heather - I love a good travel memoir, helps make up for all the traveling I don't get to do and with the laughs thrown in, you can't lose! =)

    Nicole, glad to hear it. =)

    Doreen, thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure reading and reviewing your book, and I'm so glad that I "got" what you were getting at. Sadly, I probably won't get to visit you on your tour as I'm stuck on this old east coast this summer - as with most summers - it seems I do most of my traveling in the winter when traveling is at its most treacherous (Wall Drug is awesome all year round - the rest of South Dakota, not so much). I'll be sad to miss it, though, especially the Las Vegas stop with "your" Elvis - that's a great touch!

    Thanks again for stopping, it's nice to "meet" you! Here's wishing you the best of success with Queen of the Road! =)

  8. Wow, this sounds great! Thanks for a super review. I'd seen this on a few lists, but yours was the first review I'd read. It's definitely going on the TBR list.