Journey Beckons, a Romance Novel by Kileen Prather
by Christina Gregoire
Some books just don’t fit neatly into any formulaic genre and Journey Beckons is one of those books. It’s a romance novel, but it’s for older women. It’s a travel guide for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, but it’s not a travel guide.
And, somehow it works well as both a romance novel and a travel guide.
Fiction or Travel Guide for the Seattle Area
Journey Beckons is written as a work of fiction, however the story is based upon Kileen Prather’s own experiences in Seattle and the romantic story of a female “friend of a friend,” who divorced after 45 years of marriage. So, Journey Beckons is a perfect read for baby boomer women - plus or minus a few years - who are ready for a change. (Also, if you like reading about great second or third romances, and you believe in finding love after 50, this "story" is "proof" that it can happen... even though it seldom goes according to plan.)
Kileen, the author, is also a travel manager (tour guide) in real life, so travel tips for exploring Western Washington and British Columbia are worked seamlessly into the narrative. And, even though I'm a Seattle native, I've discovered a few great tips here and there, throughout the book. It's funny how an "outsider" can see things I take for granted... things I've forgotten about.
The Book Is Similar to My Story
I don’t do many book reviews, but Journey Beckons has a lot of parallels to my own life. The romantic story line in the book takes place between the fictional Cassie from Minnesota and the fictional Ryan from Seattle, however I feel like I’ve lived through much of the plot. Here are just a few of the many similarities between the main character and myself:
- In the book, Cassie, a 52-year-old woman, takes a break from her distressing married life in Minnesota to house-sit a condo in the Belltown section of Seattle. When I was 52, I lived in a Belltown apartment after surviving my own divorce.
- My mother lives in a Belltown condo, similar to the one where the fictional Cassie stays. My mother's home has the same views of Mount Rainier (when the mountain is "out") and the ferries traversing Elliot Bay to Bainbridge Island. (If these places mean nothing to you, they will after reading the book.)
- Cassie likes to walk to the Pike Place Market to get fresh flowers and seafood. I used to walk to "the Market" for fresh flowers and seafood.
- Cassie loves to go down to the waterfront. I lived two blocks from the waterfront and walked there rain or shine, whenever I could.
- Cassie and I both went dancing with a new “boyfriend” at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, the grand dame of Seattle old-school accommodations. (The hotel used to be called the Olympic Hotel, then the Four Seasons. And, Prather doesn't mention the hotel by name, but it's the only place I know of that would fit the book's description.)
- Both Cassie and I went to Roche Harbor (in the San Juan Islands) and Tofino (on Vancouver Island in Canada) with a “boyfriend” during our early 50s. Yes, the party boats and mega yachts still dock or drop anchor at Roche Harbor.
I’ve been to almost every restaurant, hotel, hospital, grocery store, and neighborhood mentioned (or alluded to) in the book. A few spots, mostly places on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, are new to me, but the author’s tips make me long for a couple of day trips (or weekend trips) to explore my own little corner of the world.
Well, even if you don’t know the Seattle area at all, you will relate to Cassie, a reasonable woman who does her best to stay upbeat throughout her depressing marriage. And, just when you're ready to scream at Cassie for putting up with a ridiculous amount of emotional abuse, the plot takes a happy turn, as Cassie's new life begins to unfold during her much-needed break from her belligerent, demanding husband, a man who won’t follow his doctor’s advice and keeps going downhill due to his stubbornness.
Journey Beckons as a Travel Guide
After reading Journey Beckons, you may find yourself wanting to travel to Seattle to visit some of the places you’ve read about. There are two ways you can use Prather's book as a travel guide for Seattle, Western Washington, and southern British Columbia: You can take notes or you can follow the same routes used by Cassie and Ryan.
Read and Note Travel Tips
The first way to use Journey Beckons for your own spectacular journey is to read the book and mark the pages or jot down notes whenever you find travel hints. One example of a good tip is on page 157, when one character says, “Do you mind staying over at my place (on Bainbridge Island) tonight? … If you came back to the condo (in Seattle), we’d have to take the ferry and that might involve waiting quite a long time since it doesn’t run as frequently in the overnight hours.”
The whole book has little travel tips like this woven into the plot. And, for some reason, it’s easier to remember the tips when you associate them with characters and incidents. Of course, information can change over time, so you should always double check to verify the details found in Journey Beckons. Also, things like ferry schedules often change after Seattle's tourist season is over.
Follow in the Steps of Cassie and Ryan
If you want to take the same routes as Cassie and Ryan, just follow the details in the book. For example, the first “big” trip taken by the “couple,” before they become a couple, is to Vancouver Island. Their itinerary includes leaving Seattle around 8:00 a.m., taking the ferry to Bainbridge, driving up to Port Angeles, taking another ferry at 12:30 p.m., then having high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. But, that is just the beginning of their big adventure. You’ll have to read the book to find out the rest.
Author, Kileen Prather, is definitely a tour director. I’ve been on the same ferry from Port Angeles (and the other ferry used by the characters as an alternate route), but I could never tell you what time my ferry left or how long the ferry ride lasted. Now, I have a cheat sheet for local trips: Journey Beckons.
More About Kileen Prather:
To read in depth about the Seattle area, check out Kileen's book, Journey Beckons. You can preview a few chapters or buy it at Kileen Prather.com.
Kileen Prather's books at Amazon.com:
- Journey Beckons (paperback or Kindle), Journey Ahead (Kindle) or Journey to Port (Kindle).
- Have questions? Kileen would be happy to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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