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.