I felt bereft after finishing it; imagine my joy then when I discovered the Hatches had been travelling again - this time to France, on a road trip in their cheese scented Passat. I briefly considered ordering a paper copy but needed instant gratification so downloaded it to my Kindle. My intention was to just have a quick peek to satisfy my curiosity then to read it on our own holiday in France later in the year. My advice to anybody considering the same would be to forget it! Within a few pages I was hooked again and had finished the whole book in less than two days.
|Image courtesy of Headline|
So why is it so good? Firstly it is side-splittingly funny. The Hatches do seem to have an unwavering knack of finding themselves in situations that are comedy gold to the reader. Their experience with a donkey called Taquin had me in stitches and Ben's plan to sneak food into Disneyland Paris was inspired. His children are a delight to read about, their reactions to trips to the innumerable vegetable theme parks I'd previously been lamentably unaware of, are hilarious and as a parent ring very true. I'm loathe to give too much of the plot away as I don't want to spoil it for anybody but there are several moments that I could quote (and indeed did keep reading aloud to my family). The book though is far more than a series of comic escapades and wonderful though they are it's the more serious, poignant moments that elevate the book onto the list of my must-reads. Ben writes with such honesty I couldn't fail to be deeply moved, sometimes to tears. He juxtaposes the family's (mis)adventures with a candid and moving examination of his relationship with his wife. Reading Road to Rouen is like having a conversation with a good friend, sometimes you'll laugh, occasionally you'll cringe and other times you'll share a tear but life feels so much better for the time spent together. I said at the start of this review that I'm a huge fan of Bill Bryson, that still holds true but I have to say that having loved the humour and heart in both his travel books I've become an even bigger fan of Ben Hatch's writing.
Road to Rouen is published by Headline.