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Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman + Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman + Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375758453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375758454
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a travel-book-cum-memoir set against a glamorous background of European cities, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Steinbach describes the months she spent traveling after she took a sabbatical from her job as columnist for the Baltimore Sun. For Steinbach, traveling is an exercise in reconnecting with a more independent and uninhibited side of her personality. Her not-quite-spontaneous adventure begins in Paris, where she finds a kindred spirit in a worldly Japanese businessman. From there she heads off to Oxford, where she takes a course in English village life, and on to Milan, where she meets the most charming of her fellow travelers, a young American girl soon to be married. The obstacles Steinbach faces on her journeys seem minor--overcoming a fear of ballroom dancing in Oxford and putting aside the habit of always doing "at least two things at once." Only in Milan, when she was nearly mugged, does Steinbach experience anything harrowing. Though the descriptions of each locale are thin, they are not really the purpose of this memoir; rather, the author's intent is to connect emotionally with each city and to learn "to take chances. To have adventures [and] to see if I could still hack it on my own, away from the security of work, friends and an established identity." Supplying more finely observed details might have made this a richer book, but the writing is generally optimistic, warm and genuine in a Chicken-Soup-for-Travelers kind of way. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steinbach took an extended leave from her newspaper job to travel around Europe in search of spontaneity. She started off in Paris, where she got romantically involved with a Japanese man and shopped; moved on to London, where she shopped some more; took a course at Oxford University; and headed to Italy, where she wandered through Milan, Venice, Rome, and the Tuscan countryside--and shopped a bit more. Chapters begin with postcards sent to Alice from Alice, each with a bit of advice or a lesson learned. Steinbach, divorced and with grown children, appears to be much at ease traveling alone, making new friends along the way. Her mental journey through the past and present and the reassessment of her life, rather than descriptions of the places visited or the people met, are at the heart of the narrative. This pleasant, slightly romantic, but unremarkable journey will find an audience in large public libraries. (Photographs not seen..
---Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Freel Lib., North Adams
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The title of this book is misleading.
S Sabes
The food smelled so good, so even though I just had dinner, and I never do things like this, I called out, "It smells really good."
Cornelia
A memoir of sorts about Ms. Steinbach's travels and how the places and people affected her.
S. Roth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Jean Brown on April 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As you can tell by the 5 Stars I loved this book and was loathe to reach the end, I was so involved in the life and travels of Alice Steinbach.Reaching the last words of the first section, Paris, I was sad knowing her other places of destination could never be so interesting, I was wrong, each had their own charm. The one *reservation* I have, I don't think she succeeded in finding her way as the independent woman she was seeking. She seemed to find at each stop along the way others to validate who she is. That said it takes nothing away from the book...One comes away knowing Alice and feeling she would be a wonderful friend. In fact I must have three more copies, two for friends I know will love it and one for myself..the copy I read I marked so many passages and made so many notes in the margins I want another copy in pristine condition not only wonderfully readable this book is lovely to look at, each chapter begins with the picture of a beautiful postcard...and the messages Alice wrote and mailed to herself, a wonderful idea! Another book by Alice Steinbach I read and enjoyed Miss Dennis School of Writing and Other Lessons from A Woman's Life, I saw no mention of this on the book jacket or in the book but I think after reading Without Reservations the reader will want to seek out more by this writer.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Annie M. on January 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
A previous reviewer is right - the title of the book is utterly misleading. Steinbach left her home and job for a year abroad with tons of reservations - both figurative and literal! She stayed at cushy, touristy hotels, even went on a package tour in Italy. So much for the literal reservations. As for the figurative ones, she fretted the whole time about cutting loose and finding real adventure, but never really did so. She used her time and considerable resources to travel like a typical tourist, and the book seldom gets beneath the surface of any location. In Paris she stayed on the Left Bank where tourists chase the ghost of Hemingway and Picasso. She ate at over-priced, tourist-trap cafes and on her first day spent half a week's food budget on face creams. The descriptions are flat and lacking any nuance or vitality, but she goes on and on about some fake grass laid down for a tourist-ensnaring arts festival! This is travel writing for those who like to play it extremely safe.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is beautifully illustrated with postcards the author wrote and sent to herself; and it is a wonderfully written account of her travels through Europe. But it is much more than a travelogue. Ms. Steinbach weaves details of her travels along with memories of the past and her hopes for the future.
This book is an inspiration to those women who have always been defined as someone's mother or wife and long to be recognized as their own person, undefined by relationships. So whether you yearn to become an independent traveler in the literal sense or desire to travel through life on an independent journey, this book is well worth reading.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Sally Anderson on May 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is excellent and very easy to read. As she travels through Europe, Alice makes many keen observations on life & the changes within herself. We all tend to get into a rut with our daily routine and jobs and forget to enjoy life and the beauty around us. This book helps to awaken your soul & reminds you that life can be fun and interesting!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Who doesn't dream of quitting her job and traveling the world? Alice Steinbach wangles a leave of absence from her job and goes to Europe -- the dream with training wheels. Even though she has the security of knowing her home and job are waiting for her and she goes to countries that are comfortably strange, it is still a big leap for her. She makes the most of it and tells a great story.

Steinbach seems to make friends everywhere she goes. She travels with the attitude of a college student backpacking through Europe, hooking up with temporary friends at each stop. She treats her affair with Naohiro like a summer romance, intense, but sure to be temporary. Sometimes you forget that she is a middle-aged woman with two grown sons and a responsible career back home.

And that is the point. She wants to see who she is when the responsibilities of adulthood are stripped away. Is the young woman who wasn't afraid to take chances still there somewhere? Who is Alice Steinbach when she is not defined as "mother" and "reporter"? In nine months of travels through Paris, Britain, and Italy, she gradually sheds her inhibitions and fears, and gets reacquainted with living for the day.

Without Reservations is an upbeat, sometimes bittersweet, narrative of what feels like a prelude to a bigger leap.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By dfcramer@aol.com on August 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Having heard about Steinbach's book on public radio, and being a divorced mother of a grown son, with my own love of travel, and some experience traveling on my own, I was anxious to find out how the author's experiences compared to my own. I got so much more than I had expected, and was sorry to have the book end. "Without Reservations" is non-fiction but reads like a novel in many ways. She is a fine story teller, and her descriptions of all that she observed in her travels, (from the distinctive and unpredictable rooms she rented in small European hotels, to the views of an amazing Italian countryside, as well as the wide array of interesting, yet unexpected short-term relationships she developed along the way) were vivid and very entertaining. I would have liked a little follow-up regarding her life since her travels which took place back in 1993, but this is a minor complaint. I highly recommend this book!
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