Cover Image: The Art of Traveling Strangers

The Art of Traveling Strangers

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Member Reviews

It took me a while to write this review, because I don't like writing negative reviews. Too bad this novel proved to be such a disappointment.

I really thought that I would enjoy this book, because I love traveling and art. It is fun to read about artists, pieces of art and faraway destinations, so I was hoping for a fun ride. Unfortunately, the main character and her traveling companion were insufferable. I didn't like them at all. They were dull and shallow. The beginning is especially uninteresting, when we learn about the main character's marriage situation. I couldn't care less. The information about the pieces of art were given in the most unimaginative way possible as a dry lecture sprinkled with annoying comments and annoying reactions to these comments. I suffered through the whole book waiting for the ending, that (surprise!) wasn't interesting either.

I received "The Art of Traveling Strangers" from the publisher via NetGalley. I would like to thank the author and the publisher for providing me with the advance reader copy of the book.
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I loved so much about this book! The vivid descriptions and all the art!!i loved the idea of the premise and the story itself. However I felt a little bored throughout:Especially with Claire’s flashbacks. It was fine, I just wanted more!!
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This evocative novel is a fun to read story that you would make a perfect summer read. You will explore the events as two totally different strangers travel together.
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Love this book a real feelgood book and a perfect holiday read. Characters developed well and interesting lessons learnt by both of them. Highly recommended.
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I went into this blind and from the title, I thought this was going to be about meeting people while travelling but I was pretty far off. I feel that readers who have an appreciation for art would enjoy this story more than I did.

This story follows Claire, an art history professor, who was in an unhappy marriage, started seeking therapy to finally talk about how she really felt. What she didn’t anticipate was starting an affair with her therapist. Her marriage eventually fell apart but so did her work life. Feeling worried for her finance and feeling desperate to escape her shattered reality, she took up an offer to be an art guide in Europe for one of her students, Viv. They both have quite contrasting personalities and during the trip, Claire tries hard to get to Viv better. They soon grew closer through their love for art, history and surprisingly fashion.

I can tell that the author is really passionate about art and given the fact that she is an art history professor herself, her passion really came through in her writing. Personally, I am not an avid art fan but I do love learning about the history behind each piece of art work. I also love the parts about big fashion brands and the history behind their fashion pieces.

I didn’t like reading much about Claire’s personal life. I felt she should have voiced out her opinions on how she really felt about her husband and divorced him due to their personal differences instead of starting an affair with her therapist. I loved Viv’s flamboyant personality as it helps Claire come out of her shell and see things from a different perspective. Although Viv also had some personal issues of her own, they help each other heal in their own way.

Thank you Netgalley and Amplify Publishing for the arc.
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This is a perfect pandemic book. When we cannot travel, The Art of Traveling Strangers provides a thin story where we can concentrate on the wonderful descriptions of beautiful cities and amazing museums and history. Claire and Viv have come together in a slightly bizarre way, and are traveling together. I felt there was too much of Claire's past, the therapist, etc., and I skimmed through that.  Viv the student is bright but somewhat naive.  For the most part, I enjoyed reading the descriptions of Europe, but the story itself did not hold much for me. Thank you to the author, the editor and Net Galley for a free ebook in exchange for my honest review.
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This book was pure chaos, I don't know where to start. I will say that the research and details that went into the art history portion of the book were so thought out and meticulous to read, I thought was I was in Europe standing in front of every sculpture and painting described. The side stories ranged from divorce, affair, bookie, abandoned child, long lost brother, a short lived custody battle, AIDs, etc. phew... it was a lot and you felt no connection to any of it because it was thrown all into the story. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an early review in exchange for my honest opinion on this book.
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For armchair travelling purposes, The Art of Traveling Strangers absolutely hits the spot. The author is clearly knowledgeable and passionate about the artistic wonders that one can peruse in Italy, and this shone through in her art professor protagonist Claire. I had major career envy of Claire's work as a international art guide! 

Unfortunately the book worked less for me as a piece of women's fiction, on the whole. All the right pieces were there - an international adventure with an unlikely companion, a divorce, an affair... but the piece didn't quite click all the way into place for me. Claire was persistently judgemental and dismissive of her companion Viv's interest in fashion, and while there were nods to her growing out of her exclusionary binary thinking of high vs. low art, it didn't feel fully realised. Likewise, the subplot of Viv's homophobia and Claire's reaction to it felt undercooked. I was expecting the relationship between Claire and Viv to grow into something more meaningful than it ever did, and it left me feeling somewhat emotionally under-satisfied (I won't go as far to say UNsatisfied!) 

This was a fun diversion, especially perfect for anyone longing for a "cultured" holidays, featuring more museums than beaches! 

🎨🎨🎨🎨 3.75/5

As I picked this book up, I vaguely thought about it as a source for extracts for studying historical fiction. It is set in the 1980s and while there are hallmarks of historical fiction, there's nothing that leaps out as a exemplar to use in the classroom, particularly. One for personal reading rather than classroom use.
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wow! this book truly blew me away! i mean, i could not even stay in my seat! it was so much fun to read and i'm so entirely glad that i got to read this one early. thank you so much, netgalley!!!!
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Better than I thought it would be. Funny and engaging I haven't read a book like it in a long time. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an advanced copy.
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Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC

Unfortunately, I did not finish this book. I had a hard time getting in to the story. I felt the characters were trivial and boring.
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I was thrilled to read this book because of the title and the cover art. I like how the world building allows the main character and everyone else to explore different parts of the world. However, the character development and the plot could've been better executed for me to truly enjoy this book.
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This is a contemporary fiction with an interesting blend of different emotions in it. The book focuses on the lead character named Claire. The plot takes the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings as we go along with our protagonist on a road of self discovery and development. The author has written down the an very interesting plotline where the plot focuses on the character development of the protagonist along with amazing characters and scenarios involved in it. The narration of the book is so smooth and easy that the readers are able to enjoy the spirit of the book. There are numerous characters involved yet each shines throughout the book as the author has well potraited each and every character. The book is being layered nicely with the situation and incidents that were quite interesting to read. The characters in the plot kept me hooked till the end. Each has been given sufficient scope to contribute to the plot. The language used is lucid. It is definitely a good read for all the readers.
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I enjoyed this women’s fiction novel set in the 1980s. It felt like the Odd Couple’s European Tour, with art.
Claire Markham married young and put the needs of her family over her own. As her daughter grows older, she begins to question why she accepts her relationship with a controlling husband. Therapy sessions lead to an ill-advised affair and the break-up of her marriage. As an art history professor on a non-tenure track, her growing financial woes also weigh on her. When approached by Viv, a student in her class desperate to go on a summer European tour, she feels obliged to accept an offer that will pay her handsomely for organizing a private art tour through Italy and on to Paris. 

What ensues is the strongest portion of the novel, with Claire intent on the delivering the perfect art tour of Milan, Varese, Florence and Rome, and a distracted Viv set to eschew almost every museum in favor of high-end shopping and exclusive hotels and clubs. The Italian and art descriptions are strong and really well-written, but I especially enjoyed Viv’s short attention span and ingenuous methods of evading churches and museums. 

As different as these two women are, both have major issues to work through, and their unlikely friendship makes each of them stronger. This will appeal to readers of women’s fiction, especially those who enjoy segments on travel and art history.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this novel, in exchange for an honest review
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I really enjoyed the art and travel in the book. Travel and art are huge passions of mine. Both have been missed terribly during the Covid 19 pandemic and I was happy to be able to travel vicariously while reading this book. The characters, on the other hand were not that appealing. I just was not interested in what they were saying and I found the main character rather unlikeable. Over all a good but not great read. 
Thank to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review
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The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am this book’s target audience: obsessed with art history and travel. I’ve even been to many of the places in Europe where the characters go. Unfortunately, The Art of Traveling Strangers didn’t strike the chord with me that I expected. Bouncing back and forth from factual monologues about art and introspective monologues about Claire’s loves lost, the story doesn’t find a cohesive rhythm. Firstly, the characters are introduced in the present time with little to no real introduction to the plot, then the author takes us back for a quarter of the book to the main characters failed marriage and affair. All other flashbacks are sudden and randomly spaced in the narrative. The end seemed a little too tidy, but necessary to wrap up what could only be described as slow, plodding, slice of life story. I would definitely read more from the author in the future, but felt a little let down by this debut.
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This book had different layers to it. A marriage that was not working out and it gave you art and travel. It gave you things to look at.
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I really saw the potential in this book and the target audience would enjoy this more than I did, though it didn’t do it for me, the pacing and the plot weren’t enjoyable and for that reason I didn’t finish the book entirely.
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A must-read for everyone interested in traveling and learning about the inspired art masterpieces of Italy and Paris. The Art of Traveling with Strangers is a nuanced, wonderfully written book about a journey, self-empowerment, and self-discovery that questions our perceptions about inclusivity or acceptance and how we could build a more enabled home to grow in.

I admit, I had a good time reading it but there were some parts I felt so entirely uninvested that. It took me long enough to finish it not because the story was completely not interesting enough but it is because I think I am not in the right mood to read it at some point now. In line with this, the premise of this novel is built on an emotional pace which gives me a challenging connection. 

Nevertheless, I would recommend this book. This book might be not the best now for me, but others might enjoy this and should give it a try.
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After a long, long time, I read a woman's fiction novel of my heart. From the beginning to the end, I never once felt bored or irritated or confused. I've never read anything by the author, Zoe Disigny, but from now on, I will. This is a book that celebrates female friendship, liberation, and dreams. Not once it preaches feminist mottos, but not once does it stop supporting all that I mentioned above.

THE ART OF TRAVELING STRANGERS is a woman's fiction novel set in the 1980s about an art history professor, Claire Markham, whose marriage is in some deep trouble. Her husband, Kurt, is low-key mentally, psychologically, and emotionally abusive, to the point he leaves her and his nine-year-old daughter to the cold. He constantly tries to manipulate, belittle, and control Claire to the point she's a mousy doormat whenever she's around him. This forces Claire, a love-starved lonely woman, to start an affair with her married psychiatrist, Alec, who proves to be a coward in the end. On top of that, Claire is also underappreciated and underpaid at her work, where her male colleagues of lesser skills get more than they deserve. Heartbroken and disappointed, Claire accepts an offer from one of her students, another married woman and a mother of one, Scarlet Vivien Chancey, to become her art guide on a tour to several cities in France and Italy. While touring the museums and shopping malls equally, Claire comes to learn that Viv is not the ditzy, floozy, dumb blonde she assumed at first, and that all that you see on the surface are not what you get when you dive deeper.

What I loved about this book comes multifold. As someone who loves to travel but hates the physical labor of traveling, this book is for me. I lived vicariously through this book and its simple yet vivid descriptions of beautiful cities in France and Italy. Claire and Viv embrace all the opportunities that present themselves to them while on this trip. Their visits to some of the world's most famous paintings, murals, and sculptures told me a lot about the art history of Europe. As an art historian herself, the author describes everything about the various periods in simple language that you won't need a dictionary to understand. Even the historical context of the things Claire and Viv visit are fascinating to learn. On top of that, the art descriptions aren't fillers or showoff. They provide valuable context and encouragement to the main story itself. The tales of several powerful women of Europe's history help with Claire and Viv's character arcs.

Another thing I loved about this book is how it champions female friendship, liberation, and dreams. Claire and Viv aren't like each other in most ways. Claire is an academic while Viv is a shopaholic who only finds pleasure from clothes, makeup, shopping, and likewise. Claire is a pessimist while Viv is an optimist. Claire prefers artistic things while Viv would like nothing but the luxuries of life. In many more ways, they aren't the same. However, deep down, they are. Both are protective mothers and affection-starved daughters. They both love their families and would go to any lengths to protect and take care of them. I also loved how, despite their surface differences, Claire and Viv come to learn more about each other and support, uplift, and help each other during their individually difficult times. Viv helps Claire face her abusive husband, her emotionally distant mother, the turbulent history of her parents, and the heartbreaking tale of her affair with Alec. Meanwhile, Claire helps Viv reconcile with her estranged brother, learn to appreciate art, and realize the gray shades of life. They both grow and help each other grow, no cat-fights or snide remarks about each other. I love how refreshing it is, especially for a book set in the 1980s.

I also love how it discusses female dreams and liberation. Although not physically abusive, Claire's husband abuses her a lot. Claire finds liberation from a toxic marriage and saves herself and her daughter from a life of oppression and manipulation. She also comes to learn more sides of her skills and expands her dreams. Claire begins to break out of the shell Kurt had imprisoned her once and learn to appreciate her dreams more, to the point she's ready to move from one continent to another. I love it when women do not give up on their dreams and instead pursues them single-mindedly and passionately. Why should men only get to pursue their dreams?

Thank you, NetGalley and Amplify Publishing Group, Subplot Publishing, for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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