Building The Beast

How (Not) To Build An Overland Camper

Non-Fiction - Memoir
240 Pages
Reviewed on 04/08/2024
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Author Biography

Jacqueline Lambert lives life outside her comfort zone.
She is a real-life adventurer, permanent nomad, and dogmother who has climbed, slid down, or thrown herself off six of the seven continents.
An award-winning author, she writes creative nonfiction with a humorous twist about travel, culture, history – and dogs.
Her dearest wish is to inspire others to live their dreams – or join her vicariously on an unconventional armchair journey.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite

As Jacqueline Lambert points out in Building the Beast, there is a fine line between admiration and condemnation for those leading the nomadic life. How many of us would even consider selling up, leaving home, and traveling the world in a van? There are countless motor caravans for sale, but what if you want to build one to your own specifications? This is the story of how Jackie and Mark did just that. They bought an ex-Army truck, sight unseen, that they christened The Beast. Over several months, they converted it into an eco-friendly, self-sufficient home on wheels against horrendous odds. They battled with the COVID restrictions in three countries, the unwillingness of the majority of their suppliers, and the disastrous fire that rendered their rental home uninhabitable. The people they hired worked when they felt like it and missed one deadline after another. The tension built as the day they were destined to be homeless drew nearer. Jackie and husband Mark had traveled extensively in Europe in a smaller caravan, but Jackie’s dream was to drive to Mongolia. The presenter of a popular television series in Britain popped in to record their progress, and the days flew past. Jackie explains the progress from the beginning to the end and the work and expertise that goes into constructing a home on wheels and proves it is more extensive than building a static house on land.

I enjoyed reading Building the Beast by Jacqueline Lambert as I learned so much about how a house on wheels is put together. I never expected it to be so complicated. An excellent example of this was the batons erected to protect the solar panels from overhanging tree branches; that would never even have crossed my mind. I loved the way each chapter began with a timeline of how many days the renovation had taken and the countdown to the latest deadline, and several of those were missed. The book was also a reminder of the on-off/on-off lockdown restrictions for Covid in the United Kingdom, and the extra problems that caused. I can only imagine Jackie’s frustration when she was not allowed to leave Italy, and more angst for Mark who was battling to transport the Volvo truck over the channel to the UK. They experienced more stress dealing with the authorities, who often gave them conflicting information, which was quite unexpected. I recommend this book for readers who prefer to travel on the sofa and also as an incentive to others who may be planning to climb on board and travel in a home on wheels. Jackie and Mark proved it can be done. Although hilarious at times, their patience was stretched to the limit. I wish them well in their travels!