Road to Rouen


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.

My opinion: I have been looking forward to this book ever since I read Hatch’s first travelogue offering, Are We Nearly There Yet, last year. When this one came out I was in the middle of a book buying ban, but managed to convince myself that ebooks that are non-fiction and about France don’t count so downloaded it to my Kindle!

This book runs along vaguely the same lines as the last, the Hatch family driving around to tourist destinations and ending up in mad cap situations. But this time round, the children are older, the family has changed and is wiser and there are LOTS of cheese references!

We get to know Ben and Dinah a lot better in Road to Rouen, and become more understanding of their relationship and how they function as a couple. A few bits were in a bit too much detail, but I wouldn’t expect any less after the previous account of the toothbrush incident!

We also get to share in the Hatch kids growing up and their own quirks and hilarious moments. I feel like it is a privilege to be able to share in this and hope we can continue this in future. Ben’s writing makes me feel like part of the family and his children now feel a bit like the niece and nephew I’ve never had!

Another fantastic book laden with both hilarious and heart wrenching moments. I now can’t wait for the next instalment! How about the Hatch family do Route 66?

My rating: A fabulous four stars