Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach
The Travels of an Independent Woman

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Dear Alice,

Each morning I am awakened by the sound of a tinkling bell. A cheerful sound, it reminds me of the bells that shopkeepers attach to their doors at Christmastime. In this case, the bell marks the opening of the hotel door. From my room, which is just off the winding staircase, I can hear it clearly. It reminds me of the bell that calls to worship the novice embarking on a new life. In a way I too am a novice, leaving, temporarily, one life for another.


In the tradition of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea and Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun, in Without Reservations we take time off with Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Steinbach as she explores the world and rediscovers what it means to be a woman on her own.

"In many ways, I was an independent woman," writes Alice Steinbach, a single working mother, in this captivating book. "For years I'd made my own choices, paid my own bills, shoveled my own snow, and had relationships that allowed for a lot of freedom on both sides." Slowly, however, she saw that she had become quite dependent in another way: "I had fallen into the habit . . . of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me." Who am I, she wanted to know, away from the things that define me--my family, children, job, friends? Steinbach searches for the answer to this provocative question in some of the most exciting places in the world: Paris, where she finds a soul mate in a Japanese man; Oxford, where she takes a course on the English village; Milan, where she befriends a young woman about to be married. Beautifully illustrated with postcards Steinbach wrote home to herself to preserve her spontaneous impressions, this revealing and witty book will transport readers instantly into a fascinating inner and outer journey, an unforgettable voyage of discovery.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Alice Steinbach

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Alice Steinbach, whose work at the Baltimore Sun was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1985, has been a freelance writer since 1999. She was appointed the 1998-1999 McGraw Professor of Writing at Princeton University and is currently a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.From the Hardcover edition.
Published March 23, 2011 by Random House. 295 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Travel, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Without Reservations

Kirkus Reviews

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If the adventure evolves without the higher risk of other kinds of travel (and travel memoirs), and if the dramatic episodes primarily involve civilized exchanges with shop clerks and museum- goers, Steinbach doesn’t make more of getting lost around Brasenose College or of hitting upon the perfec...

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Publishers Weekly

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In a travel-book-cum-memoir set against a glamorous background of European cities, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Steinbach describes the months she spent traveling after she took a sabbatical from her job as columnist for the Baltimore Sun.

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Book Reporter

A few years ago, as I was planning a yearlong sabbatical in Europe, it occurred to me to wonder: Just what exactly do people do when they're traveling?

Mar 12 2002 | Read Full Review of Without Reservations: The Tra...

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