- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: WaterBrook (October 16, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400073707
- ISBN-13: 978-1400073702
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith Paperback – October 16, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this engaging, deeply personal and well-researched travelogue, Smith (a PW contributor) journeys to England to soak in the places of Jane Austen's life and writings. The book is sure to ride the wave of Austen-philia that has recently swept through Hollywood and a new generation of Americans, but this is an unusual look at Jane Austen. Readers will learn plenty of biographical details-about Austen's small and intimate circle of family and friends, her candid letters to her sister, her possible loves and losses, her never-married status, her religious feelings, and her untimely death at the age of 41. But it is the author's passionate connection to Jane-the affinity she feels and her imaginings of Austen's inner life-that bring Austen to life in ways no conventional biographer could. Smith's voice swings authentically between the raw, aching vulnerability of a single Christian woman battling a debilitating and mysterious chronic illness and the surges of faith she finds in the grace of a loving God. And yes, she even meets a potential Darcy at the start of her journey. This deliciously uncertain romantic tension holds the book together as Smith weaves her own thoughts, historical research, and fitting references to Austen's novels into a satisfying whole. (Oct. 16)
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“A young woman goes looking for Austen in all the places Austen once lived and many of the places she wrote about. The Austen she finds is a woman of family, and of quiet but sustaining faith. Austen shares these things and many others with author Lori Smith whose book gives the reader the great pleasure of time spent with both. A lovely, intimate read.”
–Karen Joy Fowler, best-selling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“Sensitively written and carefully paced this memoir takes the reader on a tour of the author’s experiences while journeying around England in the footsteps of Jane Austen. Lori Smith moves seamlessly from romantic daydreams, through a close questioning of her relationship with God, to battles with her mental and physical health. The book reads as an intimate and honest memoir and has enough to satisfy the non-Christian (like myself) if they choose to look beyond the somewhat unexpected (in a mainstream book at least) pairing of Jane Austen and Christianity. Above all else, this is a book about searching–for love, meaning, peace with oneself, health, a good night’s sleep, and a decent cup of coffee that wasn’t made with that freeze-dried-instant-powder–and these are experiences that anyone of any faith can relate to.... A welcoming read. Lyrical and questioning...perfectly pitched.”
–Emma Campbell Webster, actress, author of Lost in Austen, and founder of lostinaustenblogspot.com
“With wit, charm, and rare honesty–of which I have to believe Jane Austen would have thoroughly approved–Lori Smith weaves her personal life experiences throughout her journey into the life that was Jane’s. Infused with faith, romance, loss, and a search for self, A Walk With Jane Austen makes for that rare book that keeps popping into one’s thoughts and beckoning one back.”
–Tamara Leigh, author of Perfecting Kate and Splitting Harriet
“With deep and sometimes heartwrenching honesty, Lori Smith weaves her story and Jane’s together into a wholly unique narrative. In the midst of a craze for treating Austen’s novels as little more than glorified bodice-rippers, Lori brings to bear her perspective as a single Christian woman who can identify in many ways with Austen’s own beliefs and experiences, exploring truths and ideas that others gloss over. The resulting book stands out like a beacon.”
–Gina R. Dalfonzo, editor of The Point weblog (http://thepoint.breakpoint.org) and writer for BreakPoint Radio
Top customer reviews
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The book was filled with faith and uplifting to read. I am now a fan of this author that I stumbled on in my own obsession of all things Jane.
From a content point of view, while there are several threads running through the story, the primary backbone is the author's analysis of herself and others as she works through whether a man she meets at the beginning of her trip to England is "the one," her Mr. Darcy. (I won't spoil for you whether he actually turns out to be her Darcy.) She uses the energy of the potential relationship as a springboard for her personal insights as well as a framework to weave in personal information about Jane Austen's own life, from family to writing to sickness to love, and to keep interesting the rest of her trip in which she travels alone (sometimes miserably) across the country and through Austen's world as best as it exists today. One regret: I wish she had spent a bit more time talking about other Austen men, as opposed to placing such a heavy emphasis on Darcy. Cursory treatment was given to Austen's other heroes like Mr. Knightley, and some discussion on villains like Wickham, but I felt there was plenty of space left for talking more in-depth about other Austen men as archetypes for those we women still encounter today. Perhaps that was beyond the scope of what the writer was trying to accomplish, however.
Overall, while Ms. Smith and I are definitely entirely different personalities on a variety of levels, there was quite a lot for me in her story. In fact, there are several pages I've permanently dog-eared which have insights and thoughts I found relevant to my life. I enjoyed the book both as a fan of Jane Austen and as Christian woman. If you are either, or both, there will be something in here for you.
Lori Smith is very honest regarding her struggles with her health, unfulfilled desires, and especially her faith. To say it was "engaging" is not enough--I really couldn't put it down. I came away encouraged by her reminders of God's grace, freely given, grace not given in exchange for anything I've done or can ever do. She also exhorts one, using Jane's example, to be faithful in the little, everyday things--that this is what makes an extraordinary life.
Regarding Jane Austen, I learned many "factoids" that I had never encountered, and enjoyed the seamless comparisons Smith made to her own experiences. The descriptions of the Austen sites are excellent and have me scheming...how can I get back to England ASAP?
An excellent, addicting, journal-type read! Women: get some comfort food, a quilt and this book--instant English "vacation."