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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman Paperback – April 12, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812973607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812973600
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Celia Redmore on June 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
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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