Road Trip Slows in Ol’ Virginny

The Great American Road Trip


Destination: Virginia

Books: Sister Jane’s Foxhunting Books by Rita Mae Brown and Mrs. Murphy Mysteries by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown ( a cat)

Guest Post by Paula K. Price

Back to Ole Virginny

I don’t know when I first got hooked,  but for one who reads almost exclusively nonfiction it was, at first, my dirty little secret.  Now that I’ve reached an age where I have given up pretensions of intellectual snobbery, I can freely and unashamedly admit that I read cat mysteries, in particular Rita Mae & Sneaky Pie Brown’s plethora of offerings.

A neighbor in Flagstaff, AZ jokingly gave me my first cat mystery because I love cats and over the years have collected an assortment of stray and rescue cats.  One evening after a long day, when I was too tired to read one of my weightier tomes, I picked up the stupid cat book.  By 1 a.m.  I had finished the last chapter.   I had been transported to Crozet, Virginia and made several new friends, Harry, Fair, Boom Boom and, most importantly Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, the cats and the corgi, Tucker.   OK,  so the animals talk to each other.  This is not great literature nor do I suspect it is intended to be.  It is well written escape.

What does this have to do with travel? Over the years, through many twists of fate, much has changed in my life.  For several years now I have lived in Virginia.  I have been to Crozet, Virginia and Virginia’s horse country.  I’ve come to understand that Rita Mae Brown has more to offer than a pleasant little escape.  She offers an insight into a part of Virginia’s personality that is seldom understood by outsiders.

Most people come to Virginia to see Civil War (War of Northern Aggression to Virginians) battlefields, the homes of our founding fathers and Robert E. Lee standing on every corner.  Virginia, the “Old South”.  Tradition! Tradition! Tradition!

Virginia Fox Hunt

Except for General Lee, it is all here, but there is much more.   Virginians will show you the “Old South” and their love of tradition but look a little deeper and you will find an underlying earthiness.  It comes from a love and respect of the land and the natural beauty of Virginia.

Brown’s fiction writing captures the combination of that often-stuffy rigid tradition and the earthiness that is Virginia.  The cat mysteries are set in Crozet, a small town outside of Charlottesville.  The reality does not match the quaintness of the stories, but Crozet  is an interesting combination of old and new, upscale, traditional and country life reality.

If you want a real treat and glimpse of some of the “real” Virginia read one of Brown’s Sister Jane’s Foxhunting Mysteries and head deeper into Virginia’s horse country.  I always thought of fox hunting as barbaric but a little education  here, helps clear up some misconceptions.

Skip the fox hunting if you want and just enjoy the peaceful foothills of central Virginia.

You will also find many wonderful little wineries there.  Virginia is second only to California in number of wineries.

I think Virginia’s new travel slogan should be “Visit Virginia and Get Back to Earth”.

It should be noted Rita Mae Brown is a very interesting person and has written much more than cat and fox hunting mysteries.


Paula Katherine Price, despite the inherent disadvantage of being my younger sister, has carved out several important careers over the years, including running a bookstore. The bookstore, is, alas, defunct.  An avid historian and traveler, she particularly loves road trips and has explored just about every corner of Virginia.

Thank you so much, Paula, for sharing your knowledge of Virginia, and your not-surprising knowledge of books written by cats. (Photo by Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved).

Some musical notes, but no kitten on the keys, at my partner on the Road Trip–Music Road. See this on the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia by Baldacci.

Now it is the reader’s turn. Several years ago a friend recommended Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie Brown’s mysteries to me as good airplane reading. Unfortunately, nobody told me she would make such a good guide to Virginia, and I still have not read her books. Any other good books about Virginia that you would like to recommend? (Biographies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Robert E. Lee do not count.)

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

12 thoughts on “Road Trip Slows in Ol’ Virginny

  1. Although I’m not a cat lover (they’re okay), I did live 16 years in Roanoke, Virginia. Of course that is the part of Virginia that falls off the map after Charlottesville. However, I relate to the author’s mention of tradition in Virginia. When I moved to southwest Virginia in 1986, I quickly learned that we shouldn’t tinker with anything that Thomas Jefferson invented or had an opinion about.

  2. This cat lover would like to interject:

    Cat mysteries should never be a dirty little secret! Enjoy them out in the open, not just on airplanes! Is there any other animal who could fit the bill? I don’t think so!

    Thanks for your post. Very interesting! I lived in Richmond for a few months before I was born, and I still have family up there. Lovely area.

    Laura Hartness
    Owner of Callie, age 15
    The Calico Critic
    .-= Laura Hartness hopes you will read blog ..Book Review and Giveaway: From Twilight to Breaking Dawn: Religious Themes in the Twilight Saga =-.

  3. I so enjoy every post you put up- I get to see a glimpse of various parts of the US- of different cultures- different literature – and I even learn something from the comments 🙂

  4. Hi – I mean no harm in my previous post. Just caught off guard.
    I appreciated the review of Rita Mae Brown’s “Sister Jane’s Foxhunting Books”. I have friends who raise racehorses, and travel to Virginia.

  5. Virginia wineries? Who would have thought. Also I’m not so sure I’d enjoy the foxhunting book, but I do not know much about it. Sometimes things surprise me.

  6. I apologize, but I stopped when I read you picked up “The Stupid Cat book.” What? -r

    1. I think she was applying a bit of irony there. She had prefaced it by saying that she generally never read anything but non fiction, and now she is telling us that she thought “the stupid cat book” was beneath her. However, she definitely changed her mind!!

  7. Sorry to hear of the demise of the bookstore. That always makes me feel like something is being lost for society. Now, Virginia. I grew up in DC, so I was always surprised by how SOUTHERN Virginia still was a century after the Civil War. I remember some boys I knew in Richmond using the N-word, which shocked me. In my mind, Virginia also conjures up Thomas Jefferson and his amazing home Montecello, set in the rolling countryside. I went to school in Virginia, Greenway, now a part of McLean, which I can no longer spell. Some of the girls actually belonged to families who did hunt foxes and riding was second nature. They had that special grace you mention characteristic of the “Old South.” Fifty years later America has become much more homogenous, for better and for worse.
    .-= Alexandra hopes you will read blog ..Moby Dick’s To the Rescue! =-.

    1. Alexandra: I was so sorry to see the bookstore go, too. It was adorable. But when she was selling more books on the Internet than from the store, despite all kinds of events, it became clear that it made no sense to pay rent. At the same time, she was offered her present good job. Her garage is still packed with books, and she still sells on line. I should have provided the link for Price & Sons Books.

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