Saturday, July 21, 2012

All Roads Lead to Austen

All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane
Amy Elizabeth Smith
Sourcebooks, Inc.
Naperville, Illinois
368 pages

How many of you are Jane Austen fans? Do you realize that there are international book clubs for discussing Jane Austen books? What have I been missing all these years?

Literature professor, Amy Smith decided to take her love of Jane Austen books on the road to discuss the books with people in Central and South America. Even though the books would be translated into Spanish, she wanted to record people's reactions and thoughts to the Jane Austen books that were written about two-hundred years ago. Would people feel the same way about the author and the books as those who have read the books in this country? Also, would Amy find love in one of these exotic far-away places? (even though this is not mentioned in her agenda, but is fairly obvious.)

All Roads Lead to Austen is somewhat a travel-log of Amy Smith as she meets with people in Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina to discuss books such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey. (Yes, I have read these books but have chosen not to make them a guide to my everyday life.)

Who is this book for? I would definitely say Jane Austen fans and also women who tend to favor romance novels. I chose to read it because I wanted to see her view of these people from the various countries and her triumphs and disasters in traveling to these places.

All Roads Lead to Austen is delightful even when the author comes down with dengue fever while also discovering the people and the books of these varied cultures. Also, she began this journey with a very limited Spanish vocabulary. I saw this book as a possible, “How to survive in Central and South America without knowing the language.” For those of us who discuss the possibility of traveling to these areas, I thoroughly gained through her experiences, both positive and negative.

This non-fiction book is easy to read and well-organized. I would suggest that minimally the reader have some sense of the Jane Austen books even if it is just watching the movie, “Emma” before reading this book. It greatly helps to know the topic and to view the places then as the variables, just like a science experiment.

I enjoyed the book but was a little disappointed as it turned into a romance novel. The book is well-written and enthralling as the author immerses herself into the culture of each distinct country.

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