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Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman [Kindle Edition]

Alice Steinbach
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $6.01 (38%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

After winning the Pulitzer Prize for journalism, Steinbach transformed herself into a travel writer and gained a readership with Without Reservations (2000). She now presents another blithe chronicle of sophisticated adventures as she returns to the humbling role of student in order to sample different creative pursuits. Steinbach goes to Paris to take cooking classes at the Hotel Ritz and to Kyoto, where she takes lessons in traditional arts and meets some truly remarkable women, including several geishas and an impressive entrepreneur. In England she makes pilgrimages to Jane Austen's residences, and in Havana she has some real fun, meeting artists and listening to great music. She tours private gardens in Provence, takes a writing workshop in Prague, and learns a bit about Border collies at a Scottish sheep farm. Attentive and receptive out in the world, on the page Steinbach is brisk, funny, confiding, and informative as she offers pithy observations, vivid profiles, and arcane facts. Experiencing her pleasurable sojourns vicariously, Steinbach's readers enjoy a virtual vacation from reality. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 916 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; Reprint edition (April 2, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0024CEYOU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,652 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing the world one class at a time June 29, 2004
Alice Steinach loves traveling, loves writing, and loves learning. So she wrote her own job description and spent a year taking different classes around the world from French cuisine to Scottish sheepdog handling. The result is "Educating Alice", a trip around our planet without jetlag. There are eight chapters, one for each class.
Cookin' at the Ritz: Every woman has dreamed of taking a course in cooking at the Hotel Ritz in Paris. Alice Steinbach actually had the courage to do it. It's absolutely fascinating to be able to see inside the Ritz's kitchens without having to worry that Chef will raise his eyebrows if your mushrooms aren't sliced perfectly.
Dancing in Kyoto: The only way to find out why girls really become geishas is to take a dance lesson from one as Steinbach did. Apparently, the geishas aren't too happy about Arthur Golden's ""Memoirs of a Geisha." Here are the real facts of a geisha's life.
The Mystery of the Old Florentine Church: Steinbach took as her special project investigating the terrible floods in 1966 that turned the narrow streets of Florence into raging rivers. Steinbach found the human story behind the statistics.
Sense and Sensible Shoes: If you're a Jane Austin fan, this chapter is for you. Steinbach visited Chawton House, near Winchester, England - the manor once owned by Jane's brother - along with an all-star guest list of Austin experts.
Havana Dreams: There's so much politics talked about Cuba that it was a relief to see the island as ordinary Cubans experience it. I have a new respect for these endlessly cheerful people thanks to Educating Alice.
The Secret Gardens: This chapter is for gardeners. Steinbach went on a tour of famous gardens in Provence, France.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars With Reservations September 11, 2005
After having enjoyed Steinbach's previous book, Without Reservations, I was eager to see what she has been up to in the past few years and if she and Naohiro are still an item. In Without Reservations, Steinbach tells the story of how she took a year off from her job, bought an apartment in Paris and fell in love. It is a story of risk and reward. It really happened, but Steinbach tells it like a story.

In Educating Alice, Steinbach has quit her newspaper job for good. The royalties from Without Reservations must be rolling in, because now she can afford to take classes at the Ritz cooking school in Paris, geisha school in Kyoto, and a tour of lovely gardens in Avignon. Not much risk here. There is nothing connecting the classes, other than that Steinbach is interested in the subjects.

The only thread that runs through the entire book besides Steinbach herself, is Naohiro, her lover from Without Reservations. But the relationship is established and both Alice and Naohiro seem content to leave it as it is. So there is no conflict or drama. If I hadn't known Naohiro from the previous book, I'm not sure I would have been interested in their romance, which is conducted in Educating Alice mostly through letters.

I did enjoy reading about Steinbach's adventures at the Ritz in Paris, the first and best chapter of Educating Alice. Her view of the Upstairs, Downstairs nature of the grand hotel and her descriptions of her classmates and the chef are entertaining. Her discovery of the Oltrarno section of Florence is pleasant, and the adventures she has in Havana are the liveliest of the bunch.

Steinbach says of the Prague creative writing workshop she attends in one chapter, that "I thought the use of fiction techniques might improve my work as a nonfiction writer.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Memoir May 1, 2004
Alice Steinbach's childhood hero was none other than Nancy Drew --- an inspiration that serves her well as she travels the world on eight adventures that take her from a geisha house in Kyoto to a salsa bar in Old Havana, from Scotland's Border country to a church crypt in Florence, Italy.
In Kyoto, Alice recalls speaking with a group of Japanese women she had just met. "What I was looking for," she writes, "were all the details that might offer a glimpse into their lives. It was the way a reporter attempts to catch the shape of a story through a slightly open door. But I had come to Kyoto as a student, not a reporter. Still, old habits die hard."
She might be traveling the world as a student, but the skills she honed as a reporter --- which earned her a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing at the Baltimore Sun --- are what make EDUCATING ALICE such an outstanding book. Not content to be a tourist, Alice looks beyond the ordinary in every place she visits --- seizing opportunities, striking up conversations with strangers, and going out of her way to research things that interest her.
Alice's education begins in Paris, where she is enrolled for three weeks in the Hotel Ritz's culinary school. She does much more than recount the slicing, dicing, julienning and baking that she performs in class. She relays interesting details about the "Upstairs, Downstairs" aspect of the Ritz; introduces us to her classmates and the imposing Chef Moreau; reveals historical facts about Paris and the Right Bank, where she is staying for the first time after many trips to the city; and sprinkles in personal details, including memories of her grandmother, whose brown sugar candy can't be replicated because the recipe has been lost.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fun to read, wonderful writer.
Published 4 months ago by Gail W. Ford
Reading one of Alice Steinbach's books is like visiting with an old friend. Her writing is eloquent and warm. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Cheryl Mueller
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring beyond words
I loved Alice Steinbach's first work, "No Reservations." I could hardly put it down, underlined so many lines, paragraphs and bits of universal wisdom. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Pup Mom
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
it's a great book for a book study...many issues, good writing.
Published 7 months ago by Adilee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five out of Five
Although I have never been interested in taking French cooking, lessons, nor a writing class nor Japanese geishas, Alice makes these experiences come so alive that I am thinking of... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Gabelgl
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Very difficult read. This book was picked for a book club selection and only two of us finished it. The remainder of the members did not feel it was worth their time.
Published 18 months ago by Jean Vercauteren
1.0 out of 5 stars Where is the plot?
Terrible book with no story line, no one in our book club liked it. PLease save your time and money!
Published 19 months ago by Katie Pantzlaff
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Alice Steinbach wrote wonderfully. She put you right in her shoes. Some of the classes she took weren't that personally interesting to me, but she makes them interesting.
Published 21 months ago by E. Nelson
4.0 out of 5 stars Steinbach is a good author
I love to know other people enjoy traveling to different countries to meet the wonderful natives, to learn the local customs and food, and just to enjoy traveling. Read more
Published 23 months ago by CA Mommy
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting
started reading this on my honeymoon and it is an interesting read. thought it was really neat that the author is from my hometown too. Read more
Published on December 3, 2012 by Christie
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