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Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Womanby Alice Steinbach
Synopses & Reviews
Eight years ago, Alice Steinbach, a Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist for the Baltimore Sun, decided to take a break from her life. She took a leave from job, friends, and family for a European journey of self-discovery, and her first book, Without Reservations, was the exquisite result.
But once Steinbach had opened the door to a new way of living, she found herself unwilling to return to the old routine. She quit her job and left home again, only this time her objective was to ?nd a way that would allow her, personally and professionally, to combine three of her greatest passions: learning, traveling, and writing.
This funny and tender book is the result of her decision to roam around the world as an informal student, taking lessons and courses in such things as French cooking in Paris, Border collie training in Scotland, traditional Japanese arts in Kyoto, architecture and art in Havana. With warmth and wit, Steinbach guides us through the pleasures and perils of discovering how to be a student again. Along the way, she also learns the true value of this second chance at educating herself: the opportunity to connect with and learn from the people she meets on her journey.
"Steinbach had so much fun running off to Europe to find herself, as recounted in her first book (Without Reservations), she decided to quit her job writing for the Baltimore Sun and devote herself to similar educational adventures. Following the advice of Japanese poet Basho ('To learn of the pine, go to the pine'), Steinbach takes off again and recounts eight endeavors, including studying French cooking in Paris, attending a Jane Austen convention in England and meeting geishas in Kyoto. She captures the uniqueness of each setting, aided by a sharply curious sensibility she claims stems as much from her childhood admiration for Nancy Drew as from her reportorial training. That spirit of openness also enables her to strike up many spontaneous conversations easily, frequently launching other discoveries. A search for a bonsai garden in Florence, for example, winds up becoming a tour of several palaces normally closed to the public, which leads to an old priest's tale of rescuing priceless paintings from a flood. Yet for all Steinbach's attention to others, her account remains resolutely personal, as her experiences unleash bittersweet childhood memories, and an ambiguously romantic relationship with a Japanese gentleman is never far from her thoughts. Her stories are powerfully seductive to anyone who's ever been tempted to get up and go, following interests wherever they may lead. Even during the occasional setbacks, from language barriers to confusing geographies, Steinbach makes such a life look highly desirable. Agent, Gail Ross. (On sale Apr. 6) Forecast: Steinbach's book could be a reading group favorite. The publisher plans to advertise and target literary and women's interest Web sites and book clubs." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Without Reservations" sets out on a new series of foreign journeys--to Kyoto, Prague, Scotland, Provence--this time to study a few carefully chosen subjects, and to learn a great deal more in the process.
About the Author
ALICE STEINBACH, whose work at the Baltimore Sun was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, has been a freelance writer since 1999. Currently a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, she has taught journalism and writing at Princeton University, Washington and Lee University, and Loyola College. She lives in Baltimore.
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