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All Roads Lead to Austen
Review of My Former Professor's Travel Memoirs
When my friend from college gave me this book, I expected a stuffy, academic piece of writing from my former Jane Austen professor. Boy, was I wrong! This was a travel memoir that I absolutely enjoyed reading. Dr. Smith details a yearlong project she undertakes. She travels to various Latin America countries and forms reading groups with people from each country. They focus on one Jane Austen novel. The novels discussed in the book were Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey.
The discussion that intrigued me the most (actually, it happened more than once) was the way a lot of the participants trashed Emma. I found this to be interesting because Emma is my second favorite Jane Austen novel. My favorite is Persuasion. I understand that Emma is “controversial” because she is very flawed and selfish at times, but so what? Heros and heroines are supposed to be flawed. Original sin makes us imperfect, right? Part of Emma’s appeal is the fact that she has her issues and imperfections. She is real. Another reason is that her failed attempts to form love matches put her in hilarious situations. She is funny and comedy is very important in our society, or at least it should be. We need to be able to laugh.
I also liked how this book gave Dr. Smith her Austen ending (SPOILER ALERT). She becomes engaged at the end. I will not say who, but it was a pleasant surprise. And I am very grateful that my college friend sent me this book. It reminded me why I like Jane Austen in the first place.