Thursday, January 25, 2007

Kindred Spirits...

You know you are reading a good book when you want to copy down or mark a paragraph on almost every page. I am reading such a book now, called Educating Alice (Adventures of a Curious Woman) by Alice Steinbach. This book recounts the unique travel experiences of the author, who went around the world learning the arts or skills for which each of the areas she visited was best known. From cooking at the Ritz in France to taking tea in Kyoto, the author has a gift for sharing the moment with her reader. I am enthralled.

Today, I was in England with Alice breathing in the sweet air of Winchester, as she visits locations important in the life of Jane Austen. She was thrilled to meet kindred spirits studying and discussing Jane Austen. Reading her descriptions and her thoughts, I know just how she feels... the author feels like an old friend or a kindred spirit to me by now too.

Intertwined with the narrative of her present day learning experiences and travel-log, the author shares bits and pieces of her life... her Scottish Grandmother, a childhood friend, long-ago moments that rise from memory to live again. And this time, as she shares so vividly, we live those moments with her. What follows is the opening paragraph of the chapter I am currently reading, Sense and Sensible Shoes:

"On a bright morning in mid-July, I awakened to the smell of new-mown grass and the sound of voices filtered through the tinkle of teacups. For a moment I imagined myself back in the bedroom of my childhood, listening to Mother and Grandmother talking over morning tea and scones while outside my older brother Shelby mowed the back lawn. It was a seductive thought, the memory of childhood mornings when each day seemed a clean slate with yesterday's mistakes rubbed out - so much so that I had to struggle to leave behind the comfort of childhood for the uncertainty of the present. But slowly I allowed myself to remember where I was. In England, in a small hotel in Winchester, I whispered out loud, breaking the spell."

6 comments:

Nan said...

Oh, I've wanted to read this for ages! Thank you for the reminder. I'll try and get a hold of it soon.

Aisling said...

Nan, Did you read her first book? Without Reservations, I think it is called. I haven't, but definitely want to now. I love her writing style. Let me know what you think when you read Educating Alice!

karlanee said...

That sounds like a great book. I've put a copy on reserve at the library! Can't wait to sit down with a cup of tea and dive in!

karlanee said...

Aisling,

According to the library catalog, her first book was "The Miss Dennis School of Writing and other lessons from a woman's life". Her second book is Without Reservations.

Aisling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aisling said...

I'll have to look into her other book and see if it is something I'd be interested in reading. Thank you for letting me know about it. The book jacket of Educating Alice doesn't mention one before Without Reservation. Hope you enjoy her writing style, as much as I do!