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Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each…

by Claire Fontaine, Mia Fontaine

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565392,756 (3.17)3
Told in alternating voices, a travelogue capturing the changing relationship between a mother and her adult daughter follows their sixteen-city, twelve-country tour during which their adventures and mishaps brought them closer together.

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Even though this book had some thought provoking insights into their relationship and managed to Crack open the door to slight revelations on all mother daughter dynamics. ...it was slightly boring. I hated the far East parts of the book. I can not fathom the poverty in countries they visited and not be more moved by the contrast in cultures more than was expressed. Actually this is not a travel book and I felt slightly cheated when I realized this. France was much more enjoyable and Budapest. ...remind me never to entertain the slightest longing to visit.
I found Mia to be very engaging but the mother Claire to be very self indulged and over privileged and unlikable.
I did become engaged with the universal themes about mother daughter relationships and the truths that define one generation compared to the other. Especially baby boomers basically learning how to adjust and cope with the world on their own. It was not so much a revelation about our collective decision to turn our backs on our mother's and hang the ills of society in their attitudes towards woman at their doorsteps. It was a horrible injustice. Take it from one who recently lost her mother and subsequently her mentor, her idol, her inspiration and her role model.
Our children on the other hand are coddled and have little idea that sometimes it's a peanut butter and jelly week because rent is due.
Somehow it's all connected.
I should give this book another star just for the shear number of hours I spent thinking about my mother and my daughter while reading. ( )
1 vote Alphawoman | Aug 21, 2015 |
Claire and Mia Fontaine's Have Mother, Will Travel is a unique blend of memoir that both excites with its armchair travel opportunities and entices with its insights on the complicated, beautiful and challenging relationships between families. The women take turns narrating, each with a distinct voice and focus, we’re frequently treated to the “two sides to every story” lens as Mia and Claire discuss traveling, the past and their future.

What I loved most about the book — aside from, you know, the tantalizing descriptions of locales like Cairo and Athens — was how seamlessly the women shift from talking about their relationship to exploring the relationships all women share. As much an exploration of motherhood as a travel memoir, Have Mother, Will Travel offers so much food for thought regarding women’s roles in other nations, our perceptions as Americans (and what it means to be American) and the underlying responsibility humans have to one another.

I looked forward to their insights as women abroad as much as their discussions of their personal relationship, though both were fascinating. While reading Come Back isn’t necessary to get the full breadth of Have Mother, Will Travel, I could see where really getting the pair’s back story would help to appreciate just how far they’ve come — and how far they have to go. Still, an introduction in this book helps set the stage for the ladies’ around-the-world adventure; I thought it was very well done. I felt dropped into the story without getting smacked over the head with too much telling, not enough showing.

And the story itself? It was interesting. Uplifting, different. Well-paced and well-researched, the Fontaines obviously spent a great deal of time reliving their experiences and expanding on them with local history. I loved the blend of fact and emotion — the swirl of Claire and Mia’s personal dynamics amidst the warm stone of Cairo’s ancient pyramids and the fragrant fields of Avignon. Claire often details their interactions with natives, too, and I loved the little stories of the people they met in remote locales.

If you love armchair travel and discussions of the tender but steadfast love fused by motherhood? Well, the Fontaines are ready to let you in. Have Mother, Will Travel was an engrossing read that delved deeper than I expected from the (pretty!) cover, and it’s one I would easily recommend to memoir lovers looking for some international flavor. ( )
  writemeg | Apr 11, 2013 |
Much as I love the books I read and it should be pretty evident from all of this blogging business that I really, really do, sometimes I worry that I'm becoming too set in my ways and not exploring genres and such enough. Well, in Have Mother, Will Travel, I ventured into an almost entirely new genre for me: the memoir. Sure, I've read a couple, like The Glass Castle, which I am one of the only people in the world not to like, but, mostly, I've avoided them. Thankfully, I have been rewarded for my exploration and open-mindedness; I was surprised how much I enjoyed this, even though the topic, mother-daughter bonding, sort of made me want to run for the hills.

What I learned early on is that this is actually a continuation of some sorts from mother Claire and daughter Mia's first book together, Come Back, which focused on Mia's self-destructive teen years and her mother's efforts to save her. There's no need to read Come Back before going into this book, though I did add it to my reading list after enjoying this one. I was not confused, but I suspect there's plenty to be learned from that one as well.

The framing of this memoir was months of world-wide travel embarked upon by Claire and Mia, as an effort to bond again, having lost their closeness to the regular troubles of life in their different cities. Knowing this, I sort of expected everything to be light and fluffy, but both Claire and Mia are still dealing with the long-lasting effects of the traumas covered in greater detail in Come Back. Mia was sexually abused by her father when she was a child, and after she turned her life around after her drug-addled teen years, she and her mother became advocates to help abused daughters and their mothers. This isn't an issue I'd really ever heard discussed, so I learned a lot and found it very powerful emotionally.

Of course, what I hated about The Glass Castle was how boring and whiny it felt to me, as well as the tone of superiority Walls seemed to have about being well-off now while her parents dug through the dumpster for food. (Sorry if you liked that book but it just rubbed me the wrong way). The Fontaines didn't come off that way to me at all. They do not seem to feel particularly superior, are very willing to detail their personal faults and foibles, incredibly honest about the dark things, but also quite funny. The book maintains a balance between serious discussion and navel-gazing, and humorous travel book.

The first half of Have Mother, Will Travel describes a whirlwind tour of myriad countries as part of a scavenger hunt vacation. Can I say how much I want to go on this trip, even though there's no way in hell I would be able to complete most of the challenges? It just seems like such a great way to structure your vacation. Anyway, I don't want to go into this in too much detail, but the descriptions of the countries visited made me want to travel really badly. This is an excellent book for making you feel wanderlust.

The most important focus of this book, though, is not the travel, but the relationship between mothers and daughters, and, more generally, women. Claire and Mia, from their two different perspectives, do a lot of thinking about their personal relationship, looking at where it's gone wrong and how they can grow closer. They also consider the different family roles they see as they travel, considering which is best. They made me think a lot about myself as a daughter and as a woman, and I do plan on making my mom listen to this as well, even though I suspect some of Claire's observations will make her cry. Given that Mia is about my age and my mom is a baby-boomer like Claire, a lot of their observations hit close to home.

This isn't a book I see having much, if any, appeal for males, because much of it deals strongly with what it means to be a woman. There is some repetition, but, mostly, I was incredibly impressed with this.

I cannot imagine this being anywhere near as delightful if I'd read it. Claire and Mia did their own narration, reading their different sections. They both have good, distinctive reading voices, full of personality. Hearing their thoughts in their voices made the memoir, already very personal, feel much more so. ( )
1 vote A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Reviewed in SHELF AWARENESS FOR READERS, July 27, 2012: http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ar/readers/2012-07-27/have_mother_will_travel.htm... ( )
  Florinda | Jul 27, 2012 |
This mother-daughter pair first became known through their first memoir Come Back. They told their heart-wrenching story of Mia's all-consuming drug addiction, and Claire's dedication to saving her daughter.

Now it is ten years later, and both women want to move beyond what once was, and to refine their relationship and perhaps themselves. Claire and Mia want to have new adventures together and find common ground. They seek to re-establish a real bond with a new meaning.

This memoir tells that story. They set out together on the trip of a lifetime, traveling through twelve countries, including sixteen cities. There is good fun and new experiences, but also some problems and disappointments. However, this is not a typical pair of women; they were ready for whatever came their way.

It is interesting to see how Claire and Mia come to see each other in new light. Mother sees her daughter truly owning herself and her life. Daughter is now learning to see her mother as more than her mother, but also as a woman unto herself. They take their relationship to new places, including friendship.

Told by both women, alternately, this beautiful memoir is amazing and meaningful. It is a gift to each other, and to mothers and daughters everywhere. ( )
  nightprose | Jul 22, 2012 |
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Claire Fontaineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fontaine, Miamain authorall editionsconfirmed
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For our own mothers, and for all mothers
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I was on my way home from work when I got the call.
It's not often mothers and daughters relate in silence. We speak our whole lives long in conversations reckless, tender, thoughtless, bold, honest, funny, hypersensitive, unconscious, cutting, healing. Our daughters hear us in utero long before they see us and we hear our mothers' voices long after they're gone. "I have conversations with my mom all the time," my friend Leah recently told me. "She's been dead twenty years and I still have things to say to her."
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Told in alternating voices, a travelogue capturing the changing relationship between a mother and her adult daughter follows their sixteen-city, twelve-country tour during which their adventures and mishaps brought them closer together.

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