Laura's Reviews > When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put

When Wanderers Cease to Roam by Vivian Swift
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Mar 01, 2009

it was ok
Read in February, 2009

My friend Bonny recommended this book to me, so I hesitate to review it negatively, but I think she'll forgive me! As we're both avid collectors of travel journals and sketchbooks, I can see why she thought I'd like it. The concept is great but the execution left, for me, a lot to be desired. The format, loosely, owes too much to Sarah Midda's brilliant 'South of France, a Sketchbook,' with its calendar-based organizing principle and its vignette-based illustration style. I say 'loosely' because Swift ignores what makes Midda's book so successful (other than the high quality of her illustrations) and that is its breathtaking pithiness. Midda gets a whole world in her tiny, jewel-like sketches and her lists and her timelines.
Midda's book has spawned zillions of imitators, Swift being the most recent. (To cite one example: her full-page illustration of Wellington boots introducing the April chapter is an egregious ripoff of Midda's May espadrille page.) Unfortunately, in every case, Midda's imitators fall far short of the mark. Swift's book is too much----too much text, too many illustrations, for the kind of book it aspires to be. A good editor would have been a godsend. And then there's the quality of the illustrations themselves. Some of them are quite nice, but many are badly drawn and badly painted. Swift needs to spend much more time honing her craft.
And finally, I found the basic premise of the book , a journal of 'staying put' a bit annoying. Since she never gives us a real rationale for a non-travel travel journal, I began to wonder if she were just trying to fit the square peg of her clunky memoir into the round hole of this popular genre.
So there. I feel grinchy, but I'll get over it. (Bonny, are you still speaking to me?) If, by the way, you haven't read and feasted on Sara Midda's 'South of France, a Sketchbook,' please put a copy in your very own hands. It's the real deal.
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05/18/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Bonny (last edited Mar 02, 2009 06:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bonny I'm glad you reviewed this book in the manner you did, Laura. I bought this book on other people's recommendations after hesitating for some time. For all the acclaim this book received I too, felt a bit 'short changed' in what the book delivered. There wasn't truly any reason to call it a book of 'staying put'. Rather, I had the feeling the author had a longing in some parts of the book to continue some of her journeys, there was such a note of longing in some of her tales.

I haven't yet read any of Sarah Middas' books, perhaps they should be next on my list.


Lisa Thank you for the recommendation. This book had a few good moments, but left me wanting something more.


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