Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach. Steinbach takes a sabbatical from reporting for the Baltimore Sun and travels alone through Europe in an effort to break out of a self-determined rut and rediscover her more adventurous self. She effortlessly describes her stays in Paris, London, Oxford and Italy where she befriends several other travelers and does a lot of walking through the narrow streets and wide courtyards. Her adventures might not seem very extreme to experienced globe-trotters, but this neophyte with a virgin passport was enthralled, and inspired, by her stories.
By revealing past relationships and aspirations for the future, she also examines how to define herself as she enters a new period of life as a single woman of a certain age: her divorce several years behind her and her sons grown and independent. She does not seem to reach any conclusions on this subject, but perhaps they are addressed in her second travel memoir: Educating Alice.
(follow up) Steinbach’s second book, Educating Alice, does not answer the questions left unresolved from her debut, nor does it have the same effortless flowing atmosphere as the first set of travel tales. However, it may hold some appeal for those interested in stories about educational adventures in Europe and Japan.
For all my previous “books of the year” lists, see my dedicated page for these titles.