Road to Rouen

Here's a travel/family recipe for disaster. Mix two adults with two small children in a Passat crammed with squishy bags of luggage and get them to travel 10,000 miles through rural France, researching a guidebook with a flimsy contract. Mix in the tag ends of dozens of child-pacifying snacks and endless samples of cheese, and season with couple-quibbles over directions, driving styles and child-management, plus back-seat dramas from said children, and you have what? You have an endlessly entertaining book from the same author who gave us the endlessly entertaining Are we Nearly There Yet? on a similar trek around Britain.

Proving that some people never learn (Hatch, could that be a title for your next book?) and ov erlooking the fact they do not speak French, they take on a notional Frommer commission to look for child-friendly attractions throughout France, discovering to their horreur that apparently French children have more grownup tastes than British kids. Endless tours around exhibitions of gravel and vegetables just don't cut it with Hatch's son and daughter and there is mutiny in the camp on more than one occasion. Donkey rides fare better (for them, but only briefly) and things get so tough that for a while even the parent's marriage comes unstuck and he survives a kinky cult abduction. As in his fomer book, travel mixes with real life and is funny and poignant - often on the same page.

Ben Hatch was born in London and grew up here, in Manchester and Buckinghamshire, where he lived in a Windmill that meant he was called Windy Miller at school for years, though he's not been scared by this experience at all. He now lives in Brighton with his tiny wife Dinah, and two children, in a normal house. He likes cheese and is balding although he disguises this fact by spiking his hair to a great height to distract people he wishes to impress. ?His latest book is called Road to Rouen: A 10,000 Mile Journey in a cheese-filled Passat. Before this he wrote Are We Nearly There Yet? 8,000 Miles Round Britain in Vauxhall Astra, that was a Radio 2 Book of the Year, became a Number One bestseller and is currently being made into a movie by Island Pictures. ?He is the tallest Hatch who ever lived (5ft 9) and is son of Sir David Hatch, the famous radio performer and producer whose shadow Ben doesn't at all feel under. He also maintains that he knows the cure for the common cold (tweet him at @BenHatch to find this out) and that one of his relatives was John Couch-Adams who discovered the planet Neptune. Apparently his aunty told him.

 
A fun, reviving read, and a grim reminder to never be tempted to do the same yourself! 
 
- Sally Hammond

Road to Rouen, by Ben Hatch, published May 2013, paperback, rrp $11.99; ISBN: 9780755364

FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET? (RADIO 2 BOOK OF THE YEAR & VOTED AMAZON CUSTOMERS' FAVE KINDLE READ 2011) COMES A NEW HILARIOUS AND TOUCHING STORY OF TRAVEL CHAOS.

 

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