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Linda Dodwell
THE ROAD TAKEN: Men, Motorcycles and Me
If you perhaps ever wondered what it would be like to arrive in this world at the end of WWII, be whisked off across country at the age of 9 months to meet her U.S. Marine dad for the first time, grow up in the New Jersey 50s and 60s while being the only Catholic girl in school with a dad not around, becoming an RN (one of the very few socially accepted options for women at the time), marry a 2x Ivy leaguer, give birth to a daughter, earn a Fine Arts degree, learn to pilot a BMW motorcycle in 40 countries, survive the 1997 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, live bi-hemispherically all the while finding the time to act on her passion for art and architecture then this is the book for you.
This inspiring debut describes one woman’s transformation from insecure to boldly optimistic, even in the face of heartrending failure. Linda Dodwell was born during the dark days of World War II, into a self-described “apocalyptic world” in which nothing was guaranteed. As she poignantly writes, “My life tumbled out like a sack of rocks on a chaotic path that turned and twisted, endlessly marked by exhilarating triumphs and sobering defeats.” Against this backdrop, she takes readers on a breathless ride through the ups and downs of her life, charting the development of–and discovery of–her reservoirs of inner strength.

Dodwell’s rocky relationships with men often form the backbone of the story: her U.S. Marine father was usually absent; she ended her marriage after a long road of conflict and frankly recounted incidents in which both sought satisfaction outside the marriage; and, later, the man she thought would be her companion for life changed irrevocably after a traumatic head injury from a motorcycle accident. These setbacks don’t slow her down, however, as she speeds ahead to discover her true potential—and becomes “the Linda [she] always wanted to be.” Readers will immediately recognize her wanderlust, which she attributes to a childhood move from California to New Jersey, and be staggered by the sheer amount of traveling she has accomplished, most of which took place on the back of her true love, the motorcycle.

In fact, motorcycles become somewhat of a metaphor for Dodwell’s unpredictable path and are a major contributing factor to her happiness, despite the upheavals happening throughout her life. She also gives readers glimpses of her artistic side (she graduated from The San Francisco Art Institute and refers to herself as a “serial restorer”) and her passion for women’s rights, including a rousing interaction with Gloria Steinem. The takeaway is Dodwell’s circuitous path of self-discovery and her eventual realization that she can “take on whatever comes next.”

Takeaway: An uplifting account of personal transformation, motorcycle road trips, and overcoming.

Great for fans of: Kathryn Schulz’s Lost & Found, Ayelet Tsabari’s The Art of Leaving.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B

Women Riders Magazine

Sarah Schilke Excerpt

The Road Taken reads like a novel, and I found Dodwell’s adventures keeping me up to read another page or chapter. Dodwell is a strong and intelligent woman, and reading her life story is at first a fascinating lesson about American history. Then it is about various U.S. and international cultures which form her understanding of herself and her presumed roles and place in the world through generations.

I imagine myself on her motorcycle rides and dealing with the challenges and mishaps that play out in the two-wheeled lifestyle. I highly recommend this book for its combination of historical insight, adventure, and transporting your mind off on wild new motorcycle experiences. I would love to see the movie one day, too.