As the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice is celebrated this year, it’s a treat to read All Roads Lead to Austen and see how relevant Austen’s work still is centuries after it was written.
In this memoir, Smith, an English professor, shares how she traveled to six different countries in one year, setting up book groups in each one that would read one of Jane Austen’s works. Each group read either Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility or Emma.
It’s good to be familiar with at least the basic plotline of these three stories before reading this book and be willing to come across some spoilers if you haven’t actually read them or seen the film adaptations.
Smith travels to Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay and Argentina and hopes to find whether the book club members can relate to the characters in Austen’s works and whether the stories are relevant in modern Mexico and Central and South America.
In each country she visits, she spends time explaining some of the history of the place as well as background on historical or current literature of the country, which makes for great armchair travel and could mean you’ll end up with more books to add to your “to read” list. Much of the book focuses on the conversations with the book club members – what was said during the discussions, some background on Austen’s life, what Smith teaches about Austen in her classroom and more.
Book club lovers and Austen fans should find an enjoyable read out of this.