All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane, by Amy Elizabeth Smith – A Review

All Roads Lead To Austen, by Amy Elizabeth Smith (2012)From the desk of Syrie James:

Amy Elizabeth Smith, an English professor at a private California university, uses her development leave to test a theory: how do Jane Austen’s novels resonate with readers in Latin America? Do people identify with her characters and storylines? In other words, does Austen translate across time, distance, and language? In All Roads Lead to Austen, Smith explores these questions and more in six different countries, conducting Jane Austen reading groups “on the road.” Along the way, she’s immersed in the local culture, history, and literature makes valuable friendships, and… meets and falls in love with the man she is going to marry.

Yes, you heard right! Smith hooks us Janeites right off the bat by revealing that her real-life adventure has a very Austen ending—and what could be better than that? She writes in a clear, personable style that is witty, intelligent, engrossing, and filled with interesting details.

Smith’s travels begin with a Spanish language immersion course in Guatemala, followed by a romantic stay in Mexico where, on the first day, she spends all her money on books instead of groceries. She (alarmingly) becomes seriously ill with a life-threatening tropical disease, thankfully recovers, feeds tame iguanas in Ecuador, flees the police in Chile, dines on delicious food in Paraguay, and encounters tango dancers on the street in Buenos Aires.

Amusingly (at least to this reader), it seems that everywhere she goes, Smith is hit upon by men looking for a hot date. She learns the hard way that her naturally friendly disposition is unintentionally giving the wrong signals. When she innocently accepts an invitation from a (married!) older man—the doorman of her apartment building—to “have coffee, just as friends,” to her shock and dismay, he grabs her and French kisses her. Later, one of Smith’s new female friends tells her:

“You’re pretty dumb for a smart woman… First of all, you can’t be friends with Chilean men. Period. Any Chilean man asking you anywhere, unless it’s strictly work related, is coming on to you… Second… university professors do not date doormen. I’m not saying this is right—I’m just telling you how it is. This Alberto knows that university professors don’t date doormen, so he naturally assumed that if you were willing to go out with him, it’s because you were looking for some fun. You know—something physical.”

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All Around the World with Jane Contest

All Around the World with Jane banner 2012

In celebration of the release of All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane, by Amy Elizabeth Smith in June, publisher Sourcebooks is offering a contest with great prizes!

It’s easy to qualify. Just take a picture of yourself with the Flat Stanley image that you can download and print out and submit your pictures on the All Around the World with Jane Facebook page or email your submission to landmark@sourcebookspr.com.  Here are the details from the publisher:

In the June memoir, All Roads Lead to Austen the author Amy Elizabeth Smith took Jane Austen’s works along with her as she traveled to foreign countries. Her goal was to see if the magic of Jane Austen could hold its power across borders, languages and cultures.

Amy took Jane to far off countries – and we need your help to take her even further! We are holding a contest called All Around the World with Jane! Join us on our Austen love fest by printing out our Jane Austen “flat Stanley.” Take pictures of yourself with Jane in your hometown or on your vacation, and submit it from April 30th – June 3oth!All Around the World with Jane 2012

We will award the following prizes to the individuals with the most creative picture:

Grand Prize Winner will receive:

  • An E-reader with all of our available Austen sequels/continuations downloaded on to it
  • A signed copy of All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith
  • A Skype session with Amy Elizabeth Smith

Second Place Winner will receive:

  • A signed copy of All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith
  • A choice of 5 Jane Austen sequels/continuations from Sourcebooks

Third Place Winners will receive:

  • A signed copy of All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith

Below is an example of where Jane has been already from The Jane Austen Centre in Bath! along with the flat Stanley that you can print off (also available on the Facebook page).

All Around the World with Jane in Bath, England

Barnes & Noble will be offering All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane in NOOK format as an early exclusive and will be offering the eBook at $6.99 starting Monday April 30th for a limited time!

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose