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Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: WaterBrook Press
Publication Date: 2007
|Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)|
Availability: In Stock
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 Walk with Jane Austen takes the reader throughout England, including the colleges in Oxford, a monastery in Hampshire, friends in London, as well as inns in Lyme and Bath. And while there is a great deal of history about Austen and her family, the writing stays entirely fresh with the many personal anecdotes by Smith. Smith's faith is marked by profound thoughts, and her discussion of Austen's faith is both interesting and inspirational.
The love story aspect of Smith's tour is wonderfully engaging, and the rarity of such intelligent and poetic writing makes reading this book pleasurable. In her memoir, Smith describes herself as thoughtful, passionate about faith, but uncomfortable with much of evangelical Christianity. Her candor and humor about the human failings of Christians, herself included, are extremely refreshing. And, whereas some might be offended by her criticisms of the church-at-large, others will appreciate her desire to have a strong intellectual aspect to her faith. Her sometimes-biting wit is used when describing the modern Christian woman's struggle to date within the church and her own fading hopes of finding a man who passionately loves God, loves her, and is not weird. As a Christian with Anglican leanings, she seems to extend grace easily to others, while struggling to find grace for herself.
Not for the ultra-conservatives, A Walk with Jane Austen could appeal to a variety of women in the 18-40 age range. Single women may especially appreciate the dating anecdotes, but the overall themes and humor in the book will be universally appealing. And don't shy away simply because your completed checklist of Austen classics is wanting. I've read only the famous Pride and Prejudice, though now I have the desire to read all the rest. Anyone who has seen movie adaptations of her books would do just as well reading Smith's memoir. Because of Smith's objective perspective toward her faith and her skillful avoidance of Christianese vocabulary, this could be a great reading experience for non-Christians as well as Christians. I would recommend this to anyone who is remotely interested in Jane Austen, or to those who simply are hungry for an interesting and well-written memoir. -- Stacie Miller, Christian Book Previews.com
–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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Located in: Herndon, VA
Submitted: November 27, 2007
Tell us a little about yourself. I'm a full time writer. My first book, The Single Truth, addresses singleness thoughtfully from a Christian perspective. My work has also appeared in Today's Christian Woman, Discipleship Journal, Christian Single, Crosswalk.com and BreakPoint Online.
What was your motivation behind this project? I fell in love with Austen's writing when I was in college and picked up Pride and Prejudice at a used book sale. Her books became like literary comfort food for me. I read them so much (and watched the movies) and felt I had nowhere left to go, so I started reading biographies and her letters, and then wanted to see the places she lived and loved. This book grew out of a month-long journey following her life through England.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? I hope this will be a biography that Austen fans will love, that they'll come away with an understanding of her life and faith. It's also a memoir/travelogue -- I've woven my story together with Austen's -- and I hope readers will feel the deep personal connection I feel, and connect with my story as well.
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? It was a life-changing trip. Studying Austen's life helped me understand my own, and I think the biggest insight I gained was the value of an ordinary life. Austen didn't want to be famous, she didn't even really want anyone to know she had written her books. She wanted to love her friends and family, to live out her faith, to do good work and tell good stories.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, (of course) Jane Austen -- and I wouldn't stay sane without my little writing group with my friends Catherine Claire and Kristine Steakley, who both have books coming out in the next year.
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: I run the blogs Jane Austen Quote of the Day and Following Austen.
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