Author: Amy Elizabeth Smith
Genre: Non-fiction- Travel
With a suitcase full of Jane Austen novels en espanol, Amy Elizabeth Smith set off on a yearlong Latin American adventure: a traveling book club with Jane. In six unique, unforgettable countries, she gathered book-loving new friends– taxi drivers and teachers, poets and politicians– to read Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice. Whether sharing rooster beer with Guatemalans, joining the crowd at a Mexican boxing match, feeding a horde of tame iguanas with Ecuadorean children, or tangling with argumentative booksellers in Argentina, Amy came to learn what Austen knew all along: that we’re not always speaking the same language– even when we’re speaking the same language. But with true Austen instinct, she could recognize when, unexpectedly, she’d found her own Senor Darcy. (from Goodreads)
Thoughts: Amy Elizabeth Smith is a university professor from California. With a years’ leave, she heads to South America to visit six different countries to read Austen and to see if South American responses to her work differ from her students. Along the way she makes new friends, explores new cities, and finds her ‘special someone.’
This book was fun to read but was not what I expected. While this book is categorized as ‘travel literature,’ I felt that the travel portion of the book was not the main topic of the work, as I had hoped. Although Smith described the cities she stays in and some of the history of the various countries she visits, I would hesitate to call this a traditional travel book. The vast majority it of the book deals with the people she meets and the interactions she has with them; there is nothing wrong with that but I had expected the book to be more orientated toward the countries and cities themselves. And although I learned some interesting tidbits about Jane Austen, I felt that she was also placed in the background. At the end of each section about ten pages are devoted to the book group she attends in each country and the reaction of the participants to the novel that they’ve read. But because the book doesn’t focus too closely on Austen or the novels themselves, I confess that I felt these scenes to be somewhat out of place. I was also surprised at the large portion of the book devoted to her love life; while I expected some of the book to cover that ground because of the summary, I did not expect it to take up such a large part of the book. And in the epilogue, the way she decides who to be with by figuring out who is her ‘Mr. Darcy’ and who is her ‘Mr. Bingley’ just felt to ridiculous to be taken seriously, in my opinion.To be frank, the vast majority of the book felt like I was reading a chick-lit novel. There is nothing wrong with chick-lit, I enjoy reading it occasionally, but I wasn’t expecting it from this book.
This book was a fun quick read and I enjoyed it, but if you are looking to learn about South American countries, cultures, or people, or more about Jane Austen and her works, I would probably not recommend this title. However, if you mostly read fiction and am interested in non-fiction, or if you want an enjoyable read while still learning a few things along the way, you might want to look into this book.