Anyone who reads this blog regularly will have realised by now that I am a sucker for good cover art on a book. I might not judge a book by the cover, but I am guilty of selecting what I read by the picture on the front.
I chose The Leisure Seeker By Michael Zadoorian because of the great photo on the cover, an action shot of an old motorhome travelling through a desert. The photo is credited to Bob Elsdale (Getty Images).
Like many Australians, I’m hoping to become a ‘Grey Nomad’ sometime in the future. Our plan is to travel around Australia in a caravan at our own speed, staying as long as we like wherever we like, following the sun and having a good time in our retirement.
Ella and John, the main characters in The Leisure Seeker, have a 1978 Leisure Seeker model motorhome. Their motorhome may be old, but Ella and John have kept it in immaculate condition apart from a problem with the exhaust. They counteract the exhauust problem by travelling with the window open so as not to poison themselves as John drives them across Route 66 on their way to Disneyland.
Ella is dying of cancer and John has Alzheimer’s Disease. Their children are horrified when they sneak off, ignoring Ella’s need for treatment and they threaten to call the police to bring their parents home. Ella makes an interesting comment about the shift of balance between parents and children, as parents age.
John’s driving is still okay, thank goodness, but I felt anxious the whole time I was reading this novel in case he caused an accident. Luckily he didn’t, so you can relax and enjoy the story when you read it, but most of the time John doesn’t remember where he and Ella are or where they are going. On one occasion he didn’t even remember Ella. From time to time though John’s momories were available to him, for brief moments before fading away again.
Ella, on the other hand, remembers everything and is the force behind their trip, which is an opportunity for them to revisit places they went years ago with their children and friends. Ella and John very often watch slides of their life and trips together at night when they camp. John looked at pictures of friends who had dies and asked over and over how they were, forgetting they had died. Sometimes Ella lied to him, and told him their dead friends were fine, to save John pain.
Regardless of what John does or does not remember, he and Ella are still loving and considerate of each other, despite bickering and calling each other names the whole way.
When Ella’s cancer causes her too much physical pain to bear, she takes a pill, although in the beginning of the trip she resists taking her pain killers, not wanting to become an addict. By the time she and John reach Disneyland though, Ella is taking her little blue pills as she needs them, which is nearly all the time.
Route 66 is almost another character in the book, and just like Ella and John, is run down, worn out and long past it’s heyday.
The Leisure Seeking has an ending which seems inevitable. It is a sad ending, but also quite satisfying.