Giveaway: Have Mother Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World

Elizabeth, staff reviewer at 5 Minutes for Books, shares her thoughts about Have Mother, Will Travel. She received a copy of the book from the publisher, but her opinions are her own:

Mother-daughter duo Claire and Mia Fontaine were each feeling at a bit of a loss in their private lives. They’d already written a book together*, on Mia’s rough teenage years which included running away, felony drug charges, and a stint in a lock-down boot-camp school in the Czech Republic. They healed their relationship, but now they feel they’re drifting apart again. Claire has an amazing idea–why not spend 5 months together on a whirlwind, round-the-world trip?

They sign up for something called the Global Scavenger Hunt, which is an arrangement where teams raise money for charity by traveling through 10 countries on 4 continents, completing scavenges that often are presented in the form of riddles. Afterwards, they decide to spend the summer together in the south of France, Mia quitting a job she’s not thrilled with to spend extended time with their mother.

Have Mother, Will Travel is an unusual book. Although it describes their travels, the gist of the book is more about Claire and Mia examining themselves, their relationship to each other as adult daughter and mother, and even in part Claire’s relationship with her own mother, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who is closer to her grand-daughter than her daughter.

The first half of the book concerns their time with the Global Scavenger Hunt, which is a wild ride through Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Cairo, Nepal, and the Balkans. Little of the book focuses on the actual scavenges, which disappointed me a bit–I would have liked to learn more about this, and I really enjoyed their descriptions of the places and people they met. The second half of the book, which covers their summer in France, also includes gorgeous descriptions of beautiful places, and again, I wanted more of that. What they do describe is incredible though–from the elephant who nearly swallows Mia’s passport, to Claire’s, um, unfortunate ride on a camel (of all the days to wear a skirt…), to their Balkan taxi driver’s penchant for speeding down the hairpin bends of guardrail-less mountain passes, the two managed to have plenty of adventures. Towards the end of the book, Mia revisits the school in the Czech Republic where she first began to heal from her past, and together they visit the Hungarian town where Claire’s Jewish mother hid from the Nazis.

Have Mother, Will Travel is written with Claire and Mia alternating, and some of the best parts are when both describe the same incident with different eyes. The two go very deep into their own motives and actions, including moments such as silly squabbles familiar to any mother-daughter duo. They get down to the daily, messy stuff of life.

Mia is dealing with wondering what to do with her life, now that she’s out of college and working, 25, but not feeling quite grown-up yet. As she observes various mother-daughter duos in cultures around the world, and recognizes maturity in other places that she doesn’t see in her American peers, she ponders what this might mean in her relating to herself, her mother, and the world at large. Claire, meanwhile, is facing life after 50, a house in Florida bought on a whim that needs major repairs, and wondering if she should change direction at this point. Their time away from the daily grind and focused on each other and their relationship brings clarity to them both in their respective ways.

Most importantly though, in Have Mother, Will Travel the two define and redefine their relationship. I liked how they compared our American ideal of mothers and daughters as best friends to the model they see in traditional cultures, where mothers and daughters share a close-knit bond that nonetheless precludes friendship, based more on authority and respect. Claire and Mia are deeply honest about themselves and honest with each other, and that’s what allows their relationship to thrive. I hope Ilsa (my daughter, now 16) and I can one day have a similar honesty in our own relationship, and also that some day we can travel the world and then spend a summer in Provence together too. In this fantasy, she is finally mature enough to no longer mock my accent.

*Come Back. Also read  Claire’s insights on Four Ways to Improve your Mother-Daughter Relationship (posted earlier this week here at 5 Minutes for Mom).

Win it!

One of you can win a copy of this novel (U.S. and Canadian shipping addresses only). Just follow the instructions in the rafflecopter below, starting off by answering the question: “What do you and your daughter (or you and your mother) most enjoy doing together?”

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Linda Kish says

    Before my mom passed away, we enjoyed going out to eat together a lot. We also enjoyed sharing books back and forth between us.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  2. danielle lima says

    I don’t spend too much time with my mom, but I love going out and shopping or exploring the world with my daughter.

  3. Julia Baxter says

    I love going grocery shopping with my mom. We have a great time planning meals and finding the best bargains.

  4. says

    Even though my mom passed away a number of years ago, my fondest memories are of her and me on Saturday mornings sitting on her sagging water bed, eating donuts, drinking a cup of coffee and solving the world’s problems, one at a time.

  5. says

    “In this fantasy, she is finally mature enough to no longer mock my accent.” I hate to say it, but probably not. I still enjoy joking with my mom about her New York accent, and I’m in my mid-30s. :)

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  6. Anita Yancey says

    I enjoy cooking and baking with my daughter. But we also like taking a break and going out to eat together. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  7. Marjorie says

    I just love shopping with my daughter, she takes me to all the thrift stores and we have so much fun looking at all the treasures. We have many laughs when we are out together.

  8. Georgia Beckman says

    Honestly, with either my mom, or my daughters (4 of them) the very best thing is just sitting around chatting, enjoying each other’s company. And if we’re all together, that’s just icing on the cake!

  9. Liz says

    My mom was somewhat nervous about overseas travel, so her “seasoned” daughter and son-in-law took her under their wing for her first trip. Mom was a good sport about sharing the mattress on the floor in a room provided by a waiter after we missed the ferry connection.

  10. Wayne Lecoy says

    Please enter me in your giveaway.
    It would be great to win a copy of
    Have Mother,Will Travel By Claire and Mia Fontaine.
    I would give this book to my mother if i won.
    In response to your question of
    What do you most enjoying doing with your daughter (or with your mother?)?
    My mother and i enjoy going to concerts and movies together.

  11. Jenny says

    I enjoy spending time with mom whether it is just to have dinner together, go shopping and even traveling when we get the chance.


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