It’s the 1980s, and art historian Claire Markham reels from a series of heartbreaking losses. Desperate to escape her shattered reality, she becomes an art guide in Europe for quirky stranger Viv Chancey and embarks on a life-changing journey through the art-filled cities of Milan, Venice, Ravenna, Florence, Siena, Rome, and Paris.
Once abroad, Claire tries to hide her woes by focusing on Viv’s art education, but Viv—who is not who she seems—has a different learning experience in mind. Frustrated and wanting to reimagine her life, Claire embraces the idea of reality as illusion and finds herself slipping into the tales of art and history.
When threatened with one more crushing loss, Claire must learn from the spirit of her eccentric companion and the lessons from the art they encounter to take charge of her life or lose the most precious thing in it.
The Art of Traveling Strangers is a journey of self-discovery and personal empowerment inspired by the great art masterpieces of Italy and France. It’s a tale of female bonding and the amazing powers of perception. After all, reality, like art, is just an illusion.
We first meet Claire who seems to have sacrificed her career for her wifely and motherly duties, now it’s time for her to enhance her career however her husband seems to disagree even though it seems as if they always do things his way. Never once, that we see have they done what she wants to do, but – has she actually said this to him, have they actually communicated properly? So many relationships fail due to poor communication so it is difficult to see here if this is really the case.
We meet Viv and my automatic reaction is that she is too chatty and literally says every single thing to pop into her head. Her character annoys me straight away, bubbly and fun yes but also very annoying. This was my first impressions of Viv.
As the novel finally progresses (about 20 or so percent to get to the main point), we see how Claire got to where she is now. Although for someone that did ‘ruin’ her own life I would love to know why that particular element was not mentioned when she ‘ruined’ her life at that point in the novel? Instead she was just left with heartbreak but it was not mentioned. If you’ve read this you would know what I am referring to.
When she contemplates doing this Art Tour she made it sound like it’s a big decision, uhm what other choices did she have with her summer? To be alone, bored with no work over the summer or go and travel. Hello? Easy answer there. Claire complains so much, what she doesn’t realise is that a lot of her downfalls are her own fault. If she wasn’t so mopey and negative maybe things would have been better for her.
When we finally reach the main plot Viv becomes this bubbly person whereas Claire suspects shes out to sabotage this Art Tour. Claire needs to lighten up because she kept getting annoyed when she was rambling on about Art mumble jumble whilst Viv wanted to take in Italy not just the art stuff. She kept getting annoyed at Viv even though this is Viv’s trip so she can do as she frigging pleases. And Claire needs to get the stick out of her ass with her negative attitude. Maybe Viv wanted company to go to Italy to see only some elements of art. Italy is known for Fashion too you know, Claire so lighten up!
Why did this novel need to be set in the 1980’s? There wasn’t much reference to this time period as other novels would usually have this when you set a novel in a time period. It is just an American book (given Viv’s language in how it’s written).
The main character is not a likeable person, she’s a downer and makes terrible decisions. She might grow slightly but Viv is what made me keep reading this book.
I enjoyed Viv’s bubbly and exciting personality. I enjoyed travelling however I did feel this book was more artsy than travel. It was an interesting read.
I received this read in exchange for an honest review.