Travels with Tinkerbelle - 6000 Miles Around France In A Mechanical Wreck by Susie Kelly

The author and her husband devised a simple plan – to take a tent and the dog and drive around the perimeter of France. Like many simple plans it went wrong before it started and they ended up with two dogs and a campervan named Tinkerbelle.
On the second day of their journey Tinkerbelle begins to self-destruct, helped by the new dog who does his best to eat her from the inside out. This is their story, as they travel from sandy beaches to snow-topped mountains exploring the diverse cultures, cuisines and countryside making up the country called France. Their journey takes them to places out of the ordinary, meeting interesting characters and witnessing ancient traditions. While the dogs rejoice in the freedom they find running on the beaches, Susie and Terry spend a lot of time holding their breath, wondering whether Tinkerbelle will manage to negotiate impossible mountain routes and get them home before she completely disintegrates.

When Blackbird Digital Books contacted me to hear if I wanted to review another of Kelly's books I immediately accepted. Like her other books – Best Foot Forward: A 500 Mile Walk Through Hidden France and The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling In The Shadow of Marie Antoinette, Travels with Tinkerbelle is a mixture of travel and history sprinkled with humour. However, though still worth the read, it's not quite as successful as the other two. In Best Foot Forwards she walks across France, in The Valley of Heaven and Hell they bike around the country - in Travels with Tinkerbelle they ride a car. That's not nearly as big as a personal challenge - sure the campervan isn't the best of vehicles and it's mentioned here and there that driving it kind of sucks, but it's just not the same. In the other two books at the end of a day's travel she's got blisters or a sore butt, here she and her husband just want to stretch their legs and walk the dogs and may have argued extensively due to getting lost. It's really not comparable.

That being said, I did enjoy reading the book (though it felt incredibly long at times). It's got a few really great places, where I felt the spirit of the previous books, but mostly it's just a really long, yet often vague description of known and lesser known things to see around France. It never got so bad though, that I didn't feel like reading on; it was never a struggle to pick the story up again either. It's simply just not as good as the other two.

So in conclusion to my ramblings. She's written better books, but this one is still worth the read.

Approx 90 000 words / published in 2012
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2012

Travels with Tinkerbelle is a revision of "A Perfect Circle", previously published by Transworld Publishers. Enhanced features of this edition include links to more information about the most significant places visited on the trip and an accompanying on-line photograph album.


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