On the Trail to Sunset: 06/01/17
On the Trail to Sunset by Thomas William Wilby and Agnes Anderson Wilby is the epitome of the bad road trip. This is cesspool from which National Lampoon found inspiration for its Vacation movies. Except theirs were parodies and this one is a straight up, serious road trip, with romance!
The book opens with a wealthy white family hiring a chauffeur to help them cross the United States in their brand new touring car. It's a mother, father, and son and they will be co-traveling with the son's girl friend and her family. Although this journey is in part a working trip for the men, the women, especially Mrs. Eastcott, treats the whole thing as one giant luxury cruise where everyone less fortunate than herself is there for her amusement, or for her to impart trinkets or loose change on to ease her sense of duty.
The road trip starts in New York and is more or less a standard road trip story from there until Chicago. Then the plot begins to steadily fall apart as it throws a villain into the otherwise sappy romance between Winthrop and Evelyn. A mysterious man from New Mexico appears and starts to charm Evelyn who is immediately hypnotized by his hot Latin blood.
What starts out as Evelyn apparently running away her new lover from New Mexico uncoils into a messy cross country chase. Of course Evelyn is in danger for a "fate worth than death" and all of New Mexico (still a territory at this point, stretching into modern day Nevada) is united in thwarting her rescue.
There's an equally idiotic side plot with the chauffeur sabotaging the car and equipment along the way. The farther into New Mexico they go, the more racist and nonsensical the story becomes.
For the most part I've been enjoying my reading for the road trip narrative project but this book takes the cake for being the worst once I've read. It's also the worst book I read last year.