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Grief in the Van: An Adult Orphan, A Cat and A Tiny Home-On-Wheels

“…a love letter to the land, to adventure and to the healing power of solitude”.

Self-Publishing Review ★★★★


When a middle-aged unmarried woman experiences the death of her parents, she embarks on a journey in a motorhome – with her cat – through Australia’s changing landscape and the bewildering culture shock that is the grief experience. Learning to navigate the Van, the land and the grief, she discovers resilience and self-compassion. This travel memoir is a quietly joyful affirmation of life, offering hope for those experiencing adult parental loss.


Author Victoria Clayton, a year after losing her parents, embarks on a painful drive-about to regain some semblance of herself in Grief in the Van: An Adult Orphan, A Cat and a Tiny Home-on-Wheels. In the spirit of Steinbeck, she takes readers on a journey of self-reflection, discovery and recovery. Throughout the narrative are raw accounts of personal grief in all its unpredictability and severity – authentically told and affecting. This deeply nostalgic and visceral memoir reveals a challenging path toward progress, and may provide comfort and guidance for anyone wrestling with this unifying human emotion.” Self-Publishing Review ★★★★


“In Grief in the Van, Victoria Clayton takes her readers on a journey through the trailer parks of Australia and the “raw grief” that wracked her after her parents died within a short time of one another. Accompanied by her cat Dougal, the author sets out to find a way to live on when the pain of her loss seems too much to bear.

The parents Clayton has lost are very much alive in her heart and memory, and when describing them she does a fine job of capturing the little idiosyncrasies that endear our loved ones to us.

Clayton is a lively, kinetic writer whose occasionally hurtling prose style is a good match for a road trip book.” BookLife Prize


“This book is a must-read for anyone who is grieving a close family member. It’s chock-full of useful insights on all of the mixed-up feelings and complexities of dread, withdrawal, shame, wariness, carelessness, distress, and anger–and the peculiar things we do because we can’t let go. I wish I had this book to read several years ago. Victoria’s memoir fills a gap on the subject of grief and by successfully writing on this challenging topic, she now has a beautiful record of her parents’ lives and leaves the reader feeling genuinely connected to her story”. Rachel Santino, Reedsy Discovery


What readers are saying:

Grief in the Van: An Adult Orphan, A Cat and a Tiny Home-On-Wheels is a delightful read. As the author roams about the countryside with her precious cat Dougal, she discovers the freedom of being able to re-live her memories and express her grief, ultimately enabling her to maneuver her way through the pain of loss, bringing deep healing and a readiness to embrace the future with great heart”. RL, Melbourne

“As a part-time ‘grey nomad’ and a widower I found this book extremely helpful in dealing with grief after losing a loved one. I could relate, and sometime laugh, to the trials and tribulations of being on the road full time. Dealing with grief is a personal thing and the author has done a marvellous job describing how she is dealing with grief. This book has definitely helped my journey”. GG, Bega

“Victoria has captured and recorded her feelings in words that draw in the reader to share her journey of life on the road (with a cat !!!) and the great loss she was experiencing at the time. The reader understood her grief and followed her journey of questioning and acceptance, mixed with day to day life in a van with a cat and the humorous side of it all. Have tissues handy!” RC, Newcastle, Australia

“Loved it! This book is a travel memoir and one woman's journey through grief–I enjoyed it so much, I didn't want it to end.” RS, California