A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith (英語) ペーパーバック – 2007/10/16
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Step into a Life of Grace
At thirty-three, dealing with a difficult job and a creeping depression, Lori Smith embarked on a life-changing journey following the life and lore of Jane Austen through England.
With humor and spirit, Lori leads readers through landscapes Jane knew and loved–from Bath and Lyme, to London and the Hampshire countryside–and through emotional landscapes in which grace and hope take the place of stagnation and despair. Along the way, Lori explores the small things, both meanness and goodness in relationships, to discover what Austen herself knew: the worth of an ordinary life.
“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
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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.
Having just read "A Walk with Jane Austen" for the first time, my respect for Lori is only greater than before. I know that a number of people have read this book because of their interest in Jane Austen, but I read it because I knew about Lori's battle with Lyme disease and wanted to know more about how that battle has impacted her life. In fact, the negative reviews about this book made me want to read it even more; a lot of people do not understand what it is like to live with chronic illness and seem to have missed the point of this memoir entirely. Indeed, Lori's greatest accomplishment in writing this book is that she has offered a realistic portrait of a person plagued by the constant exhaustion of living with chronic illness while still trying to meet the expectations that she had for her life before she became sick. Clearly, her interests in Jane Austen, literary scholarship, and travel should not have to take a backseat to her illness, nor should her hope that she might marry and have a family someday. The hardest part of being diagnosed with a chronic illness at an early age is that one finds oneself constantly having to balance the harsh realities of physical limitations with the hopes and dreams that one had for one's life prior to diagnosis. On this point, I identify with Lori and her struggle and admire that she continues to step boldly into life, pursuing her dreams while learning to live through some very bad days.
I have never met Lori Smith, but I thank her profusely for writing this book. She has done a masterful job of taking readers on a picturesque journey through England, offering thoughtful analysis on Austen's work and life, and embracing God's love for her, all while refusing to give up on the love, friendships, and other wonderful aspects of life that are all too easy to put aside when one is struggling daily just to get out of bed and face the world. I appreciate especially what she writes in one of her closing paragraphs: "All my life I've been taught to rely on the grace of God, and yet in practice I've tried to earn his love, and my own significance, by running and doing. So it has been a measure of grace to not be able to run any longer, to simply be forced to... be." Amen.
Blessings to you, Lori... keep letting your light shine.
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.
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."
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