Women’s travel romance narratives

A listing of women’s travel books describing romances with foreign men. These books are described in detail in Romance on the Road, some on a chapter entitled “Portrayals,” others in regional chapters. See also my list of travel romance films portraying wanderlust involving female protagonists.

• Memoirs
• Fiction
• Anthologies
• Women’s anthologies
• History


Love Among the Butterflies: Margaret Fontaine

A 19th century trailblazer, Fountaine was a butterfly collector who fell hard for her Syrian guide. As a diarist, she is a a wonderful, witty and dry phrasemaker.


The love habit: The sexual confessions of an older woman: Anne Cumming

The “Book of Genesis” of female sex memoirs; a trailblazer describes her dalliances around Continental Europe.



The Love Quest: A Sexual Odyssey: Anne Cumming

And here is the Old Testament, as Cumming warms to her sex travel theme and provides juicy anecdotes from Morocco, Egypt, Iraq and other rendezvous points.


Changes in Latitude: An Uncommon Anthropology: Joana McIntyre Varawa

The search for a companion becomes a Homeric odyssey in Fiji when the frank and intelligent Joana encounters the loving but at-times possessed Male Varawa. A classic romance-on-the-road memoir.


Ma passion africaine: Claude Njiké-Bergeret

Fascinating memoir by the daughter of Christian missionaries who later married a polygamous chief in Cameroon. Available in French and German.

Quand le python se deroule: Jacqueline Roumeguere-Eberhardt

Another amazing memoir by a daughter of Christian missionaries — she married a Masai warrior in Kenya who later took additional wives. Available in French.




Eight Days in Provence: A Moment of SensualiteJennifer Huntley
A slender and beautifully packaged true-life tale of a woman and her guide who fall for each other during a trip to Provence. “Eight Days in Provence” has a miniaturist perfection, in its evocative descriptions of this beautiful region of France, the growing infatuation of the protagonists, and their dreamlike assignations in gorgeous hotel rooms after perfect meals. As with other similar memoirs, this travel romance comes in the wake of betrayal and hurt, which seems to limit the participants in pursuing their affair out in the “real” world. Still, both James and “Jenny” win points for likeability and cause the reader to ponder “what if” they could continue their romance, or if they had could have met each other before meeting others who bruised their innocence.

SerpentSerpent in ParadiseDea Birkett
English travel writer pays dearly for a one-night stand on Pitcairn Island.

VeniceA Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected RomanceMarlena de Blasi
One of the sweetest, most romantic yet classic instances of romance on the road.

An Italian AffairAn Italian Affair: Laura Fraser
Classic tale of post-divorce healing and ultimately recovery with much insight.

Hideous KinkyHideous Kinky: A NovelEsther Freud
A daughter’s memoir of her mother’s affair with a Moroccan acrobat named Bilal in the 1960s.

DeclareNothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone: Mary Morris
How not to treat one’s proud Mexican lover.

PatpongPatpong Sisters: An American Woman’s View of the Bangkok Sex WorldCleo Odzer
Rare depiction of casual sex with Thai men, valuable as the Land of Smiles becomes a major sex destination for women, both Japanese and Western.