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A Review of the Book, Happy Endings, By Margaret Logan
By Theresa Russell
A very personal memoir of a long, mother-daughter bike tour is critiqued by a younger but seasoned author/mother/cyclist/tour-operator. Is this cycling read worth the ride?
Having led a multitude of teenagers, including two of my own, on month long cycling tours, I can attest to the fact that such an endeavor fosters maturation, independence and self-sufficiency. Margaret Logan, accurate and engaging, reveals the trials, tribulations and successes of a Paris to Rome cycling trip in the pages of this hard-to-put down book. Although this life-changing adventure took place 20 odd years ago, the experiences remain relevant to modern day pilgrims. Certain things never change, like daughters calling their mothers or mothers actions weird. Relating to the events and situations comes easily to anybody who has ever toured with one or more companions for an extensive length of time.
The Logans ulterior motives for the trip seem to be for the benefit of the daughter. Her intent on this mission is to ensure that her daughter not be seduced by the trappings of material wealth. Ironically, while trying to attain this goal, the mothers own personal demons rear their ugly heads. She openly exposes herself to her daughter and shares some of her most intimate secrets with her. Obviously, she too, benefited just as much as her daughter, if not more, by committing to this demanding endeavor. Rome, in fact figured into the tour because her own youthful cycle tour there was a significant life event.
Logan cleverly describes situations and uses the sandhill crane in analogies throughout the book. While not full of details of the technicalities of cycle touring itself, the book does offer insight into many universal experiences that touring cyclists everywhere encounter. For those who have never toured, reading this book will show the workings of a tour, especially the dynamics between tourists. For those with touring experience, incidents will jog the memory of those good or bad touring partners, humorous situations and social encounters with which every tourist can empathize.
Especially interesting was the total lack of statistics about the trip itself. In other touring accounts, the constant reference to unbelievable pace and distance becomes tiring, so it was refreshing to not see such an emphasis on the "incredible" average speeds attained or the long distances covered. Logan told the story like it is - stopping to rest on hills, tough days, long days, second winds - all in a factual manner that portrayed daily events as ordinary and typical.
For the benefit of the reader, there is an epilogue with an update on the characters in the book. One oversight in this final closing is the absence of a report on one of the more significant characters. Another small annoyance came with the typos within, a sometimes distracting feature.
Because Happy Endings captivates readers with its pertinent tale, its conjunctive story and its easy-to-read style, it should be on the reading list of any touring cyclist.
Theresa Russell is now on the road, bicycling in the Yucatan with her son and 18 other surrogate children, all teenagers, for the month of January. She knows that this trip will be a life changing and growth experience for the group.
Happy Endings, by Margaret Logan, is published by Anacus Press, Liberty Corner, New Jersey. Anacus Press is known for its "Bed, Breakfast and Bike" books and its "Ride Guide" series.
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