Today I finished reading All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith. I really enjoyed the author’s recounting of her year long literary journey through Latin America. The book covers not only her quest to discover how Jane Austen’s books are perceived by readers in other countries, but also her journey through understanding the culture of each country. I enjoyed reading about her experiences with the book clubs in each countries as I also wanted to learn how small group studies are different in each culture. I have students from these same countries that come to my courses. I was able to gain an insight into the differences in learning styles of each culture.
I spotted this book on the new book shelf at my local library. Since I enjoyed reading all of the Jane Austen books, I decided to check it out and read it. As I started reading the book, I also discovered that the author was a professor at a college close to where I live. Now I was even more interested in the book.
The author led us on a tour of Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay and Argentina. Glimpses into everyday life, study abroad programs, local medicine and adventures in finding lodging all made this a great read. Also, the author’s own adventures in finding her Mr. Darcy were fun to follow.
I enjoyed the chapter about Argentina the best, but mainly because it was the only chapter set in a city where I have been. I could picture myself walking the same streets in Buenos Aires and seeing the same sites.
I could picture the colorful houses in La Boca as she described them during her visit there. I could also picture the street dancers of San Telmo that she talked about.
My sister took this picture of an older couple doing the Tango in the street near our Hotel. Street performances are seen in many places in Buenos Aires.
Food was another topic that the book covered. It was nice to see the contrast between the different countries. So often, here in the US, we think that all Latin American food is the same. Of course, I know the difference :-).
Many Latin American authors were also discussed in the book, and my to-read list has become longer in the process.
Overall, my takeaway from this book is that a well written book can be enjoyed by diverse cultures. There is always something that they can identify with. However, each culture may see something different in the story and may have a different favorite character or villain.