4 out of 5: This remarkable book is very difficult to explain. On the back cover, author Vivian Swift calls it an "illustrated chronicle," but that descriptor suggests a story or at least a loose stringing together of related events. Rather than a "chronicle," When Wanderers Cease to Roam is more of a seasonal collage. The book progresses month by month through Swift's life in a small village on the Long Island Sound and is stuffed full of the author's watercolor paintings, drawings, and related musings. Swift hand lettered the entire book, including the front page with the publishing information and the ISBN numbers. I haven't come across anything so carefully crafted in a long time.
In January, we are treated to watercolors of snowy country scenes and pen-and-ink drawings of snowmen and winter gulls in various poses. There's also a mini-memoir describing five of Swift's notable past birthdays, including: "Celebrating at the King David Hotel (built in 1931) in Jerusalem (founded in 2000 BCE) where the tomates provencals are unforgettable and I have no idea that my soldier dining companion will become my first husband. I am 30." February is a homage to travel while May focuses on gardens and gardening. Some of the book's most beautiful watercolors are of the night sky in July.
When Wanderers Cease to Roam won't appeal to everyone. It's slightly cutesy in places and contains plenty of cats and tea cups. Although I usually abhor such books, I was utterly charmed by this one. Judging by the glowing reviews this book is receiving, I'm not alone.
See a few samples from the book here.