The Road to Rochelle
by Harry X. Winfield

"Forty-three years ago, at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, I put a beautiful young lady from Burlington, Iowa, on a 727 back to Mitchell Field. I have not seen her since."

Eddie Hughes, on the surface, has had a pleasant life. He has a caring wife of over 35 years whom he loves dearly. He has three wonderful kids. He has had a restful retirement working on his model trains after having a lucrative-enough career as an engineer. He spends his days playing golf. In essence, all is seemingly good in Eddie’s world. However, underlying that content exterior is a tortured man whose past continuously nags him. Years prior, Eddie’s brother became brain-damaged after a skiing accident and later drowned. Eddie, as a young boy, was sexually abused by an Eagle Scout leader. His first marriage ended in divorce because of his sexual dysfunction caused by the sexual trauma he endured. In addition, he feels compelled to fulfill what he calls his 1976 List of Goals by getting in touch with the woman, GV, who helped him get past his sexual issues and to let her know that he is writing a book about his eclectic experiences.

Although classified as a novel, this book is clearly Winfield’s memoir, as well, which may confuse some readers—especially when they see that the protagonist’s name is Eddie Hughes. Understandably, Winfield is attempting to protect the names of the people involved, but by writing this as a fictional piece, he also distances us from his tragic and compelling experiences. A potentially disturbing issue for some is that readers are made a privy to a portion of the 1,000 or so emails sent back and forth between Eddie and GV, which ultimately are so “creepy” (using GV’s wording) that she tells him at the end of the book that she wants nothing to do with him anymore. Sadly, what starts as a story of young love ends up becoming something much different.

Return to USR Home