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Travels With My Lovers Paperback – December 13, 2002
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The Amazon Book Review
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A fictional account of five phases in a woman's existence through her many travels and loves.
Top customer reviews
She is a profoundly wounded woman. First, she finds how out of love she is with her husband, how deeply her discontents go. Thus, her first affair is extramarital, and takes place while she's on vacation with her children in Florence. Its intensity shakes her to her core. Even more devastating is the discovery upon her return to New York that she has been married to and borne children to a gay man. With that revelation, the protagonist begins a multi-year exploration of the curious connections between physical passion and deep emotion. The lady (she is not named in the text) doesn't go on sex binges or indiscriminate one-night stands. She has the fortune (good or "mis-") to fall in love with her lovers. She is joyed in many ways and betrayed and hurt in others. I think it's called "real life."
Some other reviewer said that the infamous Dr. Laura would be incensed at Travels and its protagonist's presumptive "immorality." But this does not take into account the extent to which "l'amour physique" often is the reflection of pain and hurt, and the extent to which someone's privately-held morality will make them selective and careful. Miner's protagonist, for example, becomes powerfully attracted to a married friend, and feels her control beginning to slip. It may be that the only thing that that prevents the affair--for it is that--from being consummated is that the character feels bound to respect her friend's marriage, however that respect may hurt her, and her would-be paramour. The marriage is fraught with problems, it is not happy, but it is a relationship built on devotion and trust. And the protagonist will not violate that bond for her own purposes.
I suppose the "moral" of the story might be "Do no harm." It might also be something someone said to me almost fifty years ago: "There's more to sex than screwing." Finally, owning those truths, Travels might be about how the protagonist attains self-sufficiency, learning how to define herself, with or without a man. I have to believe men also need that lesson, which is a lot more difficult to live than many of us might wish to admit. Neither men nor women need to be defined by who they sleep with. There's always the night when we go to sleep with ourselves; and it would really be good if we like that person, too.
If you have the eyes to see with and heart to hear, Travels With My Lovers is a lot more than a description of amatory adventures with a "lady of pleasure." It's a lovely book about self-revelation and discovery, and that is what makes it a delight.
The novella starts off in Florence, Italy in the 1970's. Travel's protagonist is travelling through Italy alone with her two small children. Her orchestra conductor husband, Eric, has chosen to spend the summer in New York City. Emotional tumult lies ahead as she discovers her husband's secret. Sensing a break-up in their future, she throws caution to the wind and allows herself to be pursued by a gorgeous Italiano, Carlo, in his mid-twenties. Just a few years older than he, the protagonist experiences intense sexual love that breaks open her heart and awakens her sexual being at once.
The novella is neatly organized into five easily digestible stories, each packed with a new discovery on her emotional horizon. The reader finds herself wishing each of the protagonist's five loves would be fulfilled in a happy-ever-after ending. But that is hardly the point of the book. Miner shows with great alacrity the protagonist's struggles to unearth her very self through these romantic escapades.
The author interweaves music, architecture, emotion and physicality in a beautiful blend of scenes and moments that cannot last. The bittersweet realization that one's longings can only be fulfilled through one's own sense of self, not through the Other, is handled with genuine grace.
Miner orchestrates the various romantic duets between American woman and foreign man (Italian, French, Swiss - take your pick!) with an unmatchable musicality. At moments, the reader believes to be in an opera by Puccini, witness to the indelible impact of Italian architecture and passion.
Erica Miner's book makes the reader long for warm summer nights along the Seine or the Riviera, arm in arm with a lover, gazing at life's beauty and the romance that can explode like a shooting star and then be gone in the wink of an eye. I highly recommend her book for its authenticity, its honesty, and its remarkable benediction to the human spirit.
Christine Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, lives near Munich, Germany, with her husband and two children. [...]