Apr 17, 2013

Book Review: Have Mother, Will Travel by Claire and Mia Fontaine

I think when I go home, I'll see female colleagues less in terms of our age differences and more in terms of the shared experiences of our gender. (Mia Fontaine, ch. 13)

Claire Fontaine and her daughter Mia take a trip to seven countries in Asia and Europe, to renew and strengthen their mother-daughter relationship, to find out more about themselves, and to find out about other women around the globe.

They travel to China, Malaysia, Nepal, Cairo, Greece and the Balkans, and to Avignon in France as well as to Budapest. There they interact with and observe other women, mothers and their daughters, as well give us the feel and the flavor of the countries they visit. The trip is designed as a scavenger hunt for the travel group they are with, where each group chooses things or places, foods or events to find and experience. Along the way, mother and daughter manage their inevitable conflicts, ask each other pointed personal questions, and share new discoveries.

Reading the book was having an interesting armchair travel experience, seeing the countries and people from their points of view and also learning about the shared history that made up their first memoir, Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back. Mia has come a long way from the runaway teenager and user that she had been to a more independent and responsible woman and daughter.

I did find myself confusing one person with the other while I was reading, as mother and daughter share chapters, both writing as in a journal. Claire's entries are in regular print and Mia's thoughts are in italics. As I found their writing styles not too dissimilar, I would forget to switch and would sometimes read Mia's entries thinking it was Claire's and vice versa. That was the only confusion for me, keeping them straight at all times, in spite of the difference in the fonts.

I like that you can pick up the book and start at any chapter. Here is an excerpt from Claire's thoughts, chapter nine:
My heart and soul, however, came alive in Plovdiv, a verdant, historic hilltop town in Bulgaria.Till now, I wasn't sure why. As Mia and I sit for lunch against a low stone wall and a cascade of ivy tendrils and the wind blows the little green corkscrews across my cheek, I suddenly understand....
It lies on the same latitude, exactly, as Cleveland Heights, where I was born and spent much of my childhood. It has the same plants and flowers, the same trees, insects, climates and constellations, the same fragrance, light, and colors. One I hadn't been surrounded by in decades.
I did enjoy their travel narratives and interactions best of all.

For more reviews of the book, visit the TLC Book Tour schedule.

Title: Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World by Claire and Mia Fontaine
Published April 2, 2013; William Morrow paperback
Objective rating: 4/5
Genre:  memoir, travel

Claire Fontaine is a former screenwriter living in the US and Europe. She is a certified relationship and life coach. Mia Fontaine is a motivational speaker who has written for the New York Times, blogs for Ms. Magazine, and is at work on a narrative nonfiction book. She lives in New York City. Find them at their website or on Facebook.

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for a review copy of the book.

Linked to Cym Lowell's Book Review Link Up/Ben's Recovery Fund.


  1. This sounds like a nice way to "travel" to China, Malaysia, Nepal, Cairo, Greece and other countries. Thanks for your honest review, Harvee!

  2. I think this sounds amazing. I wonder how long my mom and I could travel together before one of us would want to ship the other home!! :)

  3. I had heard good things about this book. These kind of travel stories can really be good when in the hands of a good writer if they also focus on people.

  4. I enjoyed this one too, it made me wonder how my daughter and I would do traveling so much together!

  5. Have Mother, Will Travel sounds like a great travel book.
    Nice post.

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed this one for the most part. I love armchair travel, especially since I don't get to do much REAL travel.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  7. I like memoirs and traveling so this appeals to me.

  8. I would have loved to take a trip like that with my mom.

    I love memoirs and books about travel, so this sounds really good. Will have to check out their first book too!

  9. Just popping over from Cym's Book Review Wednesday -- I've been wondering about this book and this is the first review I've seen of it -- sounds great!


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