Friday, August 25, 2017

Staying at Home and Travelling to France with Vivian Swift



Would you rather savor the joys of home or travel to France?

With these two books by author/artist Vivian Swift you can do both. They can each be picked up and enjoyed for a long read or just a brief sojourn. But really, they are more of an education and an experience than just books to read.

The first, When Wanderers Cease to Roam, I bought several years ago. It's publication date is 2008. Subtitled A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put, it is Ms. Swift's record, captured in words and watercolors, of coming to rest for a year in a village on the Long Island Sound after ten years of world travel. 

Through the pages of her monthly entries Ms. Swift shares her days and nights, reminisces about her many travels, records the weather, introduces her cats and neighbors, looks to the stars, drinks tea, muses on sweaters and mittens, and finds new uses for her now languishing suitcases. 

I know why I bought this book - I love Ms. Swift's watercolors and illustrations. They express the joy of the every day. Simple lines. Clear colors. All that I strive for in my own sketchbook renderings.

The text is handwritten by the author which would normally put me off, but the words are clearly formed and not at all difficult to read. Her writing is energetic and entertaining. I feel I have stumbled upon one of her secret art journals.


Her collection of teacups

I am looking forward to the colors of autumn 
that Vivian Swift captures here.

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As enamored as I was with her first book, I was delighted to discover that Ms. Swift has a second book titled Le Road Trip. It has a publication date of 2012 and lucky for us she gave up on staying put. Here is her chronicle of a trip to France with her husband James. In her inimitable style she paints the sites of Paris, Bayeux, the Normandy beaches, Mont Saint-Michel, Chartres (all places I have been), and the villages and towns in Brittany and Bordeaux (haven't made it there yet).


Laundry day in Normandy


Although it is a book about her travels in France it is also a book about the art of travel: the anticipation, comforts and discomforts, ups and downs, wrong turns, dimly lit hotel rooms, and coming home.

It is full of more of her lovely illustrations — cafes, steeples, gardens, and countrysides — and her lively text. But, be warned: this book may prompt your own excursion to Paris and beyond. 

Ooh-là-là! That could be a good thing. 

Les gâteaux

10 comments:

  1. I read When Wanderers Cease to Roam back in 2011. Like you, I was drawn to Swift's wonderful illustrations. Then I loved her descriptions of her neighbors and the animals around her. I didn't know she had another book. This one is definitely on my list now!

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    1. Joan, I am so happy you have already discovered Ms. Swift! You will be pleased to know that she has a third book out - "Gardens of Awe and Folly: A Traveler's Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening". As soon as I have quit swooning over "Le Road Trip", her new book will find its way to my book shelf. Gardens of the world - lovely.

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    2. Oh, thanks for the tip. I'll look for that one, too. I love gardens, so I'm sure I'll love Gardens of Awe and Folly, especially with her illustrations.

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    3. You are welcome, Joan. I am looking forward to experiencing her garden book as well.

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  2. The illustrations would have drawn me in as well, Belle. In fact, they have drawn me in and are about to be installed onto my wish list.

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    1. Hi, Penny. I know you have a penchant for gardens so you might want to check out Ms. Swift's latest book 'Gardens of Art and Folly'. It is full of her illustrations and watercolors of gardens that she has visited around the world. Hope you are well.

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    2. Thank you. I will look for "Gardens of Art and Folly".

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    3. It's on my TBR list for sure.

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  3. I actually have When Wanderers Cease to Roam on my TBR shelf, and I have no idea why I haven't read it already. (Probably because it got buried, who am I kidding?) I think I may have read Le Road Trip, but I'm not sure...guess I'll have to see it the library has it to find out :) I do love books like this that combine art and words.

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    1. Hi, Kathy. I thought you might already be familiar with Ms. Swift and her art. It is relaxing to be in her world!

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