Books for Adventurous Women: JourneyWoman and TripFiction Share Top Travel Reads

Last updated on December 21st, 2021

Featured image: Cordoba, Spain by Envato Elements

Books that expand our view of the world

By Carolyn Ray, JourneyWoman  

Since the re-launch of the JourneyWoman Book Club in June 2020, we’ve read 17 books (at least!) and travelled in spirit to countries around the world like Zimbabwe, Italy, Morocco, Portugal and Egypt, We’ve also been inspired by some incredible solo travel memoirs like Travels With My Hat by Christine Osbourne and Tales of  Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman.  

As my book club co-host Wendy Brooke and I optimistically looked to the future and a return to work and travel, we decided to make some adjustments to our book club, based on feedback from our members. 

Book Club Plans for 2022

Book selection with TripFiction: There’s so much to learn in our world. We want our book club to inspire you to travel, expand your bucket list, and shift your perspective with a story’s authenticity. To help with the latest books, I asked Tina Hartas from TripFiction if she’d help us bring a fresh perspective to our books. As thanks for her generosity, I hope you’ll consider joining Tina’s mailing list at TripFiction.

Submit Your book recommendations: The JourneyWoman community has recommended hundreds of books and we want to make sure those recommendations are being broadly shared, so we’re adding a new form to our website that will allow us to publish your book recommendations live on our Book Club page. Please click here to submit and share your book recommendation and check back often for ideas!

Quarterly book club meetings: Wendy and I have been hosting monthly meetings since June 2020, and we’re grateful to our loyal group of book club enthusiasts, many of whom have been at every single meeting! We enjoy these too! It’s a lot of work for us as a small team to prepare, promote and facilitate these events, which is why we ask you to support us with a pay-what-you-can model. Going forward, we’re going to reduce our book club meetings from monthly to quarterly so that we can have deeper and longer discussions and perhaps even discuss all the themes across multiple books.

January: “All My Mothers” by Joanna Glen, Córdoba, Spain

An uplifting and perceptive novel that will keep you hooked throughout. It is sad, too, and there is a really heartfelt story of loss and a search for roots.

Eva is growing up with parents, with whom she just doesn’t seem to bond – Dad is Spanish from Andalucía and Mum is a fragile, reclusive woman who has no motherly warmth. They simply don’t feel like her tribe and when she discovers a photo of herself as a child, with the head of the female caregiver removed, she decides that she really needs to understand more about her heritage. Dad then abandons his little family and returns to his home country of Spain, leaving the two females floundering. 

She is driven to study in Córdoba, where she somehow feels she belongs. Her father, she knows, is in the vicinity and there is a good chance she might bump into him, of course. And it is there that she starts her search for her childhood history. It is a convoluted path to uncovering the secrets that have permeated her life and consciousness, a preoccupation that consumes her.

This is an exceptional novel and is gripping from start to finish. In many ways it is about the circle of life, about identity, relationships and about family. It is beautifully written.

An Act of Love Book Cover

February: An Act of Love by Carol Drinkwater, Alpes-Maritimes, France

A moving story of love and friendship with a wonderful sense of place” (Kate Mosse)

Summer is coming in a small village in the Alpes-Maritimes, where a young Jewish woman, Sara, has arrived in 1943 with her parents. She is a mere 17 years old and the family has fled from Lódź in Poland. They are stationed in a house, owned by an English family and they know that this is only a temporary lodging until such time they are forced to move again. The Germans are moving steadily nearer and the summer idyll is fragile.

Sara is a resourceful young woman, who already has language skills and a capable disposition, in contrast to her mother who has suffered greatly after the long, terrifying journey.

Where will the remainder of the war years take her?

As always, the author is so good at setting her characters in an evocative location. The humming heat of the mountains and pastures, the food and plants all add extra texture to the poignant story. This is a coming-of-age story that will stay with you, heartened by the resilience of human nature in extreme conditions.

The Island of Missing Trees Book Cover

March: The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak, Cyprus

If you haven’t read anything by Elif Shafak, then you are missing out. She is an extraordinary and unusual storyteller and can give a voice to people and in this case, a fig tree. It is in many ways a useful construct to examine history and life, and the author imbues the tree’s beguiling narrative with a strength and perception, forming an incisive part of the story.

The fig tree is situated in North London, and came from a cutting brought over by Kostas from Nicosia, and planted in its new home, where it observes the comings and goings of the people in the house. The tree shares timely reflections on history and the nature of belonging. 

 Kostas (a Greek Christian Cypriot) was courting a young woman, Defne (a Turkish Muslim Cypriot) back in the 1970s in Cyprus, and many of their dates were in a restaurant called the Happy Fig, which referred to a tree growing in the heart of the premises. As you might expect, there are glorious descriptions of the multicultural food throughout the novel which add a piquancy that left me salivating. There is, too, a real sense of the island in terms of setting.

 On 24 July 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus, and then again in August, and the country became partitioned with a UN monitored Green Line, which still divides the country today. At that point, the lives of so many irrevocably changed and this is the story of one family and the impact of political division.

Carolyn is the Publisher + Editor-in-Chief of JourneyWoman and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC). A Canadian raised in South Florida, Carolyn loves all things Spanish, historic destinations and always has her backpack ready to go.

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6 Comments

  1. Rochelle Veness

    Your webpage is a great idea. I love it.
    What about adding the book called “Meet You at the Piazza”

    Reply
    • TripFiction

      Lovely to hear your thoughts. Are you meaning the Frances Mayes book – if so that is so rich on information. Now I am longing for Italy…

      Reply
  2. Sally Jane Smith

    I’m sorry I missed the last book club gathering – now that we’ve come out of lockdown here in Australia, it is harder for my supervisor to be flexible about when I take my lunch break. I hope to be able to join you again, and will keep an eye on the quarterly meeting dates.

    Perhaps book club regulars could use the Facebook group to keep in touch about any travel-friendly reads we come across 🙂 Or link up on Goodreads – it would be great to connect with other readers who enjoy a strong sense of place.

    Reply
    • Carolyn Ray

      Great idea Sally! If you’d like to start a book club discussion thread on our facebook group, feel free – or on our private forum on JourneyWoman.com.

      Reply
  3. Meghan

    All My Mothers is not available as an ebook. I guess I’ll have to give it a miss.

    Reply
    • Carolyn Ray

      It is available as an ebook on amazon for kindle. We hope you’ll join us and participate in the discussion!

      Reply

We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

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