Book Review: Whistling Up The Southwind by Mary Kathleen McKenna
The allure of RV travel lies in the open road, the freedom of exploration, and the joy of new experiences. It’s not just a way to see the world—it’s a lifestyle, a community, and for many women and men, a path to healing and self-discovery.
Whistling Up the Southwind by Mary Kathleen McKenna, a pseudonym for Dr. Kathie Bishop, is a fictional piece that beautifully encapsulates this experience through the eyes of a woman, Anna Marie. If you’re an RV enthusiast seeking a narrative that encapsulates the essence of women RV travel experiences or a book lover in search of a tale that is heartwarming, inspiring, humorous, and at times, poignant, this novel is a must-add to your reading list.
Whistling Up the Southwind, the inaugural book of the Women with Wisdom series, is a tribute to women and their unique experiences in RV travel. The story centers around Anna Marie, a retired Special Education Teacher’s Assistant, who, following the loss of her husband, decides to set off on a new adventure in a 1998 1/2 Southwind motorhome.
Creating a community on wheels
Anna Marie’s RV journey is far from solitary. She is accompanied by a colorful group of characters: her pug dog, Little Bear, a Maine Coon Cat named Maya, a pregnant runaway teenager named Christa, an elderly woman with dementia named Granny Rose, and an African Grey Parrot named Circe. These characters, each representing different stages of a woman’s life, form a supportive community, navigating their shared journey together.
Reflections on Whistling Up the Southwind
As a female and avid RVer, Whistling Up the Southwind struck a chord with me on multiple dimensions. The book is not only an engaging read, but it also delves deep, stirring a range of emotions. It’s a thrilling journey that elicits laughter, induces tears, and provides comfort in its familiarity. It’s a narrative that inspires and provokes thought, leaving you in anticipation of the unfolding story.
The characters (particularly the women) are beautifully developed, each with their unique personalities and stories. Anna Marie, the protagonist, is a character that many women can identify with. Her journey of self-discovery and transformation is both inspiring and empowering. The companions she meets along the way add depth and diversity to the narrative, making the story all the more engaging.
What I admire about this book is how it captures the essence of RV travel, the sense of community, the freedom of the open road, and the transformative power of new experiences. It’s a celebration of women’s strength and resilience, showing how we can navigate life’s challenges with grace and courage.
However, the novel goes beyond RVing. It delves into the core of life experiences and the individual journeys we undertake that sometimes intersect and influence our next turn.
Meet the Author
Dr. Kathie Bishop, known by her pen name Mary Kathleen McKenna, is not just a writer but an adventurer herself. She and her husband embraced the RV lifestyle while conducting research for this book. Their experiences, the sense of community they encountered, and the stories they collected along the way have significantly influenced her writing.
Notably, McKenna also traveled to France, including visiting campgrounds in southern France, to conduct research for the third and final book in the series.
Women with Wisdom Trilogy
McKenna’s passion for women’s history, both hidden and ancient, is a driving force behind her writing. She believes in the importance of restoring this history to our awareness through teaching and writing. Her Women with Wisdom trilogy is a testament to this belief, showcasing strong, resilient women who navigate life’s challenges with grace and courage.
McKenna hopes that her readers, regardless of age, will understand that we can continually transform ourselves into better people. She emphasizes the human condition to experience loss and changes in our lives and encourages readers to learn how to adapt and use those experiences to help others and ourselves. She believes in the importance of seeking and developing supportive communities and sees RV travel as one way to do this.
The journey of Anna Marie doesn’t end with Whistling Up the Southwind. The recently released second book in the series, Following the Cycles of the Moon, and the third book, currently in progress, Gazing at the Stars, continues her adventures across the US and Europe, many of which involve RVing. The subsequent books delve deeper into each character’s past and their connections to one another. They also explore the growth of the younger characters and answer some lingering questions.
McKenna is also working on a new series on the Wisdom of Pets, starting with Sarabi’s Story: A Maine Coon Cat’s perceptions of Life, Love, and Family.
The power of women & RV travel
Whistling Up the Southwind is a captivating tale that beautifully encapsulates the experience of women and RV travel. It’s a story of transformation, community, and the strength of women. It’s a testament to the power of travel to heal, inspire, and bring people together. Whether you’re an RV enthusiast, a lover of good stories, or someone looking for a bit of inspiration, this book is a journey worth embarking on.
Connect with the Author
For those interested in learning more about Mary Kathleen McKenna and her work, or perhaps even discussing Whistling Up the Southwind in your book club, you can reach out to her directly. She is available for virtual book clubs, presentations, and talks. You can contact her at email@example.com.
To stay updated on her upcoming books and discussions of interest to readers, visit her website and Facebook page. Please note that Mary Kathleen McKenna is a pen name used by the author, Dr. Kathie Bishop.
Natalie Flores-Henley and her husband, Levi Henley, workamp around the
country in their 26-foot motorhome. Along with writing for RV magazines,
they recently published their first book together, Seasonal Workamping for
a Living: How We Did It. They share their experiences and RV-related tips
on their own blog henleyshappytrails.com as well as videos on their
YouTube Channel, also called Henley’s Happy Trails.