I stumbled across Geraldine DeRuiter’s memoir All Over the Place while skimming Overdrive for my next audio book and was happily surprised to discover it was such a funny, heartfelt memoir. I’ve never read her blog, the Everywhereist, but I really enjoyed her self deprecating and open style of writing. While her blog, and by extension this memoir, are about travel that is just the surface of what DeRuiter covers.
“Sometimes you can’t let a complete dearth of natural talent or ability stop you from doing something.”
When Geraldine was laid off (this is my second book in a span of a week to cover the Recession of ’08) she floundered for a bit before her husband suggested she write a blog. When she said the only things she would want to write about were him and cake he suggested she follow him on all his business trips and write a travel blog. Geraldine is not an expert at traveling; she has no sense of direction, she doesn’t have space saving packing tips and she gets motion sickness while tying her shoes. One thing she does have going for her is a successful husband who travels the world and can afford for her to be by his side instead of in an office. While you may be insanely jealous of this she is so funny and charming you forget to hate her. She also had a brain tumor in case her charm doesn’t stop you from hating her.
Like I said- this isn’t all travel.
There is loads of family drama too. Her mother, an Italian immigrant, sounds both insane and like a blast to hang out with. She got stopped by TSA shortly after 9/11 with a pick ax in her carry on that she 1. forgot about and 2. didn’t want to throw away because she “needed it.” Geraldine’s dad was maybe a spy? Or just a translator? He met his wife in Italy while he was on an assignment but they moved back to Germany where they had Geraldine’s brother. When her mother decided she wanted to have her daughter in America she packed up and moved to Seattle which broke her already strained marriage. After her parents divorced her father was largely absent from her childhood but he still played an important role in her upbringing. She talks about a book she read in high school which her father offhandedly mentioned he and his other son loved. This eventually sent her on a quest to see John Harrison’s clock when she was in Greenwich as an adult.
The true star of this story though is Rand. Geraldine’s husband is a saint. He is smart, successful and completely in love with and supportive of his wife. While they fight about how much he works he just seemed like the total package. Swoon.
Overall I was completely enamored by Geraldine and her memoir. Her writing style was effortless and she had the right balance of humor and heart. I listened to the audio and she was a delightful narrator.