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All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane
Unavailable
All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane
Unavailable
All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane
Ebook415 pages6 hours

All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

3/5

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Currently unavailable on Scribd

Currently unavailable on Scribd

About this ebook

"An illuminating insight...fascinating."—Amanda Grange, bestselling author of Mr. Darcy's Diary

"A journey through both a physical landscape and the geography of the human heart and mind...delightfully entertaining and often deeply moving, this book reminds us that Austen's world—and her characters—are very much alive."—Michael Thomas Ford, author of Jane Bites Back

WHERE DO BOOKS TAKE YOU?

With a suitcase full of Jane Austen novels en español, Amy Elizabeth Smith set off on a yearlong Latin American adventure: a traveling book club with Jane. In six unique, unforgettable countries, she gathered book-loving new friends— taxi drivers and teachers, poets and politicians— to read Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice.

Whether sharing rooster beer with Guatemalans, joining the crowd at a Mexican boxing match, feeding a horde of tame iguanas with Ecuadorean children, or tangling with argumentative booksellers in Argentina, Amy came to learn what Austen knew all along: that we're not always speaking the same language— even when we're speaking the same language.

But with true Austen instinct, she could recognize when, unexpectedly, she'd found her own Señor Darcy.

All Roads Lead to Austen celebrates the best of what we love about books and revels in the pleasure of sharing a good book— with good friends.

LanguageEnglish
PublisherSourcebooks
Release dateJun 1, 2012
ISBN9781402265860
Unavailable
All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane
Author

Amy Smith

Amy Elizabeth Smith has an undergraduate degree in music and a masters and PhD in English. She teaches writing and literature (including a course on Jane Austen) at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. She loves traveling, dancing, classic cinema, and watching squirrel videos on YouTube.

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Reviews for All Roads Lead to Austen

Rating: 3.1547619047619047 out of 5 stars
3/5

84 ratings20 reviews

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  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Even though I am not a fan of Jane Austen, I did enjoy this book. Dr. Smith is telling us her experiences living in South America for a year - and it was like she was sitting across the table from me enjoying a cup of coffee and a good gossip. As a geography teacher, I did like reading her impressions of the countries she visited. She held reading groups on an Austen book in each country she visited - which (as a literature teacher) I think is the best way to teach a novel. Not only did the participates of the group learn about the novels, the author learned much about the cultures of each area. The only thing keeping me from giving this 4 stars is that she does make many references to Austen characters, and I did feel that I missed a lot because I wasn't familiar with the characters. Maybe I need to go back and give Jane Austen another try!
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    This book seems to be the product of the author's sabbatical, although she doesn't exactly state it that way. The author teaches Jane Austen to students at a California university. She spent her sabbatical year in six different Latin American countries, meeting with at least one book group in each country to discuss one of Austen's works. She wanted to find out how readers in these countries would perceive Austen's novels. Would they view her work as entirely foreign and unrelated to their lives, or would they make a personal connection to her novels? She also wanted to learn about national authors whose works might be comparable to Austen's within their own cultures.Smith visited Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina. I've been to Mexico several times (although not to Puerto Vallarta), and I've kept in touch with a high school friend whose family lives in Ecuador. I wasn't nearly as familiar with the other countries Smith visited. I'm sure I would experience these countries very differently if I were to visit. I wouldn't spend as much time in bars since I'm a teetotaler. Smith also seems to have a higher tolerance for risk than I do. (I might add that this didn't always work out well for her.)The book groups in Chile and Argentina were the most interesting to me. Most of the Chile group were poets and their discussion focused mainly on their opinions of Austen's technique. Argentina was interesting because it was the only country in which the reading group hadn't been prearranged. As soon as she arrived in Buenos Aires, Smith began visiting bookstores and libraries to recruit readers.I made a list of the national authors mentioned for each country. Few of them seem to be available in English translation, so it didn't greatly inflate my wishlist.The book is more literary travel than Austen criticism. Familiarity with the films of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma is probably the only necessary prerequisite for reading.
  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    2/5
    Really disliked this book. Sophomoric, obvious, poorly written, it managed to bore me and make me morose at the same time. It gets a pity star because I couldn't stand to finish it, otherwise, I'm sure it would have been only one.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    I was intrigued with the concept of studying the reactions of Spanish-speaking people in Mexico and several South American countries. Amy was such a brave person to undertake this yearlong project by herself. She got started by taking an intensive, immersion course in Spanish. The course provided several contacts that ended up taking her through the rest of her journey.

    Now I need to brush up on several of Austen's books that were covered in this book: Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Northanger Abbey, & Sense and Sensibility. Then I'd like to read Amy's book again. First I need to finish a long list of books that I've already lined up to read. It seems like each book I read leads me to several other books: there are endless pleasures in reading!
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Recently, I've found a new love for nonfiction that I didn't have before. The latest in my nonfiction pile of reads was this book. I LOVED it. Of course, I have a great love for Jane Austen, so the idea behind this book intrigued me from the start. The author, Amy, is an English professor who took a year sabbatical and traveled to six different Latin American countries over the course of the year. In each new place, she gathered a group of locals, gave them Spanish copies of Jane Austen novels, and then later, met in book club form to discuss the books. She wanted to see if the Austen novels transcended culture enough that people everywhere would connect with the characters on a personal level as do many people in the States.

    Aside from the obvious love for the Austen discussions, I loved the story of Amy's travels. She told her story of how it felt to be living in each of these countries, and about the people who became dear to her. The story not only became one about people discussing books, but one of their history, cultures and the personalities that transcend them. The cherry-on-top was that she found her own Mr. Darcy along the way. 4.5 of 5 stars.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ms. Smith obviously knows and loves her subject. If it was just a book about a Jane Austen reading group that would be enough but the stories about Ms. Williams travels and the people she meets are what really make the book special. The book shows that not only is Austen relevant today but is for every culture showing again why Austen belongs as one of the greatest writers of all time. My appreciation to Ms. Smith for giving us this delightful look into Austen from another. viewpoint.
  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    2/5
    Years back we took a family vacation and visited several counties in England, On my birthday we visited Bath. You would be amazed how much Jane Austen memorabilia you can find there. For me it was intriguing to walk where Miss Jane Austen lived.This book, All Roads Lead to Austen, called to me as it was about travel, adventure and, of course, Jane Austen books. I have to admit straight away that I did not finish this book. I just plain ran out of steam and got a little.....bored.The idea of spending a year traveling in foreign counties is very intriguing and adventurous. I know this not only by reading as much as I did of this book, but because I have done just that. Decades back I traveled around Europe for an entire year and half. No plans in particular, just roaming and enjoying other cultures. That is an adventure in itself, although my father didn't quite agree with that sentiment at the time. LOLI could relate to that part of the story about picking up books from the countries she visited. Being a bookworm I am guilty of packing a suitcase with books from foreign places, dragging heavy luggage along to enjoy my treasures when I got home. The author did manage to come up with a good reading list from the countries she traveled.Talking about the Austen novels with her book "clubs" was also enjoyable. But I started losing interest in her nattering on about her family, her mother and the sometimes pretentious observations about her love life. Do I believe she honestly met a Mexican man and moved in with him without knowing much about him? No, I don't. Maybe it happened but it seemed exaggerated. So did her affair with the Argentinian.Basically, there wasn't enough Jane Austen in a story with a title All Roads Lead to Austen. That's my humble opinion.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Even though the closest I have gotten to reading an actual Jane Austen movie is watching the Greer Garson 1940 rendition of Pride and Predigest with my Mom on TCM this is the second book I have read about "Austen-ites". Which has moved me to include "Emma" in my reading stack next to my bed.I enjoyed All Roads mainly because I love the travel memoir genre and this one did not fail to entertain me. Set in six countries in South America the author organizes book discussions of various novels written by Jane Austen with the complex experiment to see number one - how it translates to their lives and second - if they can relate to the characters.Very entertaining in scope though the discussions became a little tedious to me having not read the novels they were discussing.

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  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    If one is enamoured of Jane Austen then this may be a book of interest. I was hoping to get a better feeling for the countries she visited and a wider view of the people but it was not to be. The author's broad generalizations based on such a very, very small segment of the population was a bit disheartening. But the book was mildly interesting and I did read to the end.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    An English professor at a California University, specializing in Jane Austen, decides to travel for a year on her sabbatical in South America teaching Austen and holding book groups on 3 of her books. A very nice travelogue, with the teacher learning a few things along the way. The cultural differences between the countries she went to are interesting, but at the end, it all comes down to Austen's universitality (sp?) of human foibles, failings and realistic characterizations. She even found her Mr. Darcy! Even if you've never read Austen, you'll enjoy this book.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    3.5 stars. The execution didn’t quite live up to its fascinating premise, but I’m glad I read it.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    I think the premise behind this book was darling, I just couldn't get into it.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    As a former student of Professor Smith, I may be a little biased toward the book (she came back from her trip the summer before my freshman year and the book was published the summer after I graduated, so I heard all about her adventures and writing process as it was happening). I'm pretty certain, though, that even if I were not a student of hers, I would have loved the book. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, and I found the idea of teaching Austen, someone so quintesentially "English" to a group of Spanish speakers, fascinating. Prof. Smith's love and admiration for Jane Austen comes through in each chapter, and her self-deprecating humor (especially when it comes to her not-so-good Spanish in the beginning) kept me giggling.But of course, like any good Jane Austen book, the best part is the romance. Smith has to choose, ultimately, between her own Darcy and Wickham. Which one did she choose? You'll have to read to find out...
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Smith is an entertaining memoir about the year-long travels in South America of an English professor and Austenite from California who sets up book clubs for Jane Austen books in six different countries. She wanted to see whether this very English author would appeal and have meaning to the women, and a number of men, who agreed to participate. She went to Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Argentina, and recorded vivid exchanges with the book groups. Those, and other informal exchanges she has, show once more the universality of Austen's writing, while at the same time providing insights into the local cultures and mores. Relationships between women and men, class distinctions, prejudice, the travails of the lower classes and foibles of the upper classes, among others, are points of commonality and also points of departure in all the countries.People from many walks of life get involved with her project and her journey, including two romantic interests for her, an always-optimistic Mexican taxi driver who may be a Mr. Bingley type, and a curmudgeonly bookseller who may be a Mr. Darcy. The various cultural differences among the Latin Americans are fascinating, and I now want to visit Argentina, the book-reading capital of South America, more than ever. When she's in Buenos Aires, at one point Smith's in an eight block stretch that has more than twenty bookstores.The author can "whinge" a bit much, but she has legitimate reasons when she gets dengue and ringworm and experiences other setbacks. If you love Jane Austen's books, you're likely to enjoy this light account of Latin American reactions to them, and if you fancy armchair travel, there's much of that to enjoy, too.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    In All Roads Lead to Austen, Smith recounts a year in which she traveled throughout Latin America doing small book group discussions of Jane Austen's works with the people she met on her travels. This was an impulse grab at the library, and normally this is the kind of book I would probably avoid. It's a memoir of a "created" event (in other words, the author went out and did something so she could write about it), and those often feel gimmicky to me. And Latin America has never much sparked any interest for me. But something about this book drew me to it, and when I started reading I was immediately captivated. Smith creates a likeable narrator and describes the places she goes and the people she meets with an earnestness that pulled me right in. Sometimes descriptions in books of the traveler meeting new people have a cold, observational feel to them; not so in All Roads. The characters are vivid and Smith is there making friends and discovering what her travels have to show her. Her treatment of the countries she visits (Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina) is perhaps slightly rose-tinted, but not so much as to be off-putting.While I enjoyed the descriptions of the places she visited and of their histories, I was most interested in Smith's recounting of her Austen book groups. She discussed Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice on her travels (and heads up: there are spoilers for each in All Roads), and hearing the reactions and interpretations of multiple different reading groups to the same novels (and novels with which I am familiar myself) was like getting to listen in on a series of the best kinds of conversations about books I've ever had with my own friends. This isn't a study Smith's done, though--on a few occasions I found my scholar side "yeah, but"ing about some of the conclusions she comes to. If you have any methodology quibbles you'll have to put them in your pocket in your pocket to enjoy the book, but if you can, you'll find a delightful read. Recommended.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Ms Smith travels to Central and South America to hold book groups on Jane Austen novels in various countries. She checks the reaction to Austin by other cultures and learns about those cultures in the process. It was a great hook for a travel book and I enjoyed going along with her.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Holding book discussion groups in six different countries - what a great way to meet people and learn about the local culture.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    I have always loved Jane Austen's books. I thoroughly enjoy modern re-tellings as well as prequels or sequels. I rush out to see movies based on her novels or her life. Compare something to one of Austen's works and I'm almost guaranteed to jump on board. It's pretty safe to say that I am definitely an Austen fan. Amy Elizabeth Smith's All Roads Lead to Austen was already going to capture my attention but throw in the subtitle A Yearlong Journey With Jane and I couldn't read it fast enough.Smith is an English professor at Pacific University where she has the opporutnity to teach Austen's novels. Faced with the question of what to do during her first development leave year away from the university, Smith decided to travel to six different countries in Latin and South America and read Austen's novels in Spanish with people in each of these unique countries to see if the popularity and perceived universality of these works translated as readily as the words on the page. First Smith had to learn Spanish though, at least enough to discuss the books with native speakers.After a five week stint in Antigua learning Spanish, Smith set out on her year-long exploration of Austen's appeal for non-English speakers who not only don't share a language with Austen but who also live in far different cultures than that with which Austen was familiar. The six countries she chose were Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina. In some of the countries, Smith would have friends, acquaintances, or contacts of some sort who would help her organize her Austen reading groups. In others, she would leave things to chance. She chose to read three different novels, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice, twice each.Divided into chapters set in each country, Smith does a good job introducing readers to the six different countries and their inhabitants. Part travelogue, part Latin and South American history, part personal memoir/romance, and part literary examination, Smith's story is accessible and entertaining. She took the precaution of taping the book club discussions so that she could accurately transcribe them, especially when her Spanish is stretched a bit. She shares the wonders and problems with traveling so far from home, the culture shock, the fortuitous surprises, and the genuine welcome she receives everywhere she goes. She cheerfully exposes her own gaffes and quirks to the reader as she moves from country to country. Her enthusiasm for each of these different countries and the people she meets in them and the bookstores and the local literature is contagious and engaging. And what she discovers about the universality of Austen's novels will probably not surprise any Janeite. Appealing and fun, Smith's year-long adventure is a wonderful, humorous, and personal read.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    What a great book! Initially I was wary because there are so many mediocre Jane Austen spinoffs. But this was a worthy, though light and sparkling, look at how Austen translates across cultures in Latin America. The author, an English professor in California, travels to Central and South America and reads Austen with different book clubs there (some of them slapped together, others more structured). I learned a lot about Chile and Argentina (my personal favorites of the countries she visited in) and enjoyed reading about the people she met there. My only disappointment (and it was mild) was the guy she ended up with. For some reason, I wasn't nuts about him. But this was a very enjoyable read.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    While I consider myself a fan of Austen, it was far more interesting to hear about Smith's personal life and the changes that occurred during her travels in Latin America. Every lass has her own Darcy! This is a really fun read for those who enjoy travel stories, memoir or Brit lit!