Overall, Mabel is a straightforward, colorful narrative that employs its roadster camaraderie to create a shared sense of joy (Jennings on the thrill of passing through Everett, Washington: “If you’ve always lived with a name that is not at all common, and you get thrown into a place where all you see is your name, you get a little giddy.”) Still, the sense of momentum ebbs and flows. The late Jennings wrote much of the book not long after the original trip, and Rogers, who promised to complete the manuscript and see it published, has updated the account, offering greater detail in the vein of a travel guide. He honors Jennings’ work but hasn’t thoroughly edited it to condense protracted play-by-plays or eliminate redundancies.
Jennings and Rogers experience frequent car troubles and moments of drama and awe, but some retrograde humor limits this adventure’s appeal, such as the suggestion that out of feminine jealousy the car, Mabel, intentionally “runs off” its owner’s dates. Still, descriptions of classic cars and America’s last wild places shine through this account that reads less like a polished memoir than a series of travel diaries.
Takeaway: Road trippers (and classic car enthusiasts) will find points of interest in this account of a 1987 West Coast journey.
Great for fans of: The Road Trip Book: 1000 Drives of a Lifetime, Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B