Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Without Reservations: The Travels Of An Independent Woman” as Want to Read:
Without Reservations: The Travels Of An Independent Woman
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Without Reservations: The Travels Of An Independent Woman

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  5,627 ratings  ·  555 reviews
American journalist Alice Steinbach took a year off to live in five cities - Paris, Venice, Milan, London and Oxford - when she realized she had entered a new phase of life. Her sons had graduated from college; she had been divorced for a long time; she was a successful journalist. While there was nothing really wrong with her life, she felt restless. Could she live indepe ...more
Published August 4th 2003 by Bantam (first published 2000)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Without Reservations, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Without Reservations

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jul 16, 2007 Candice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ellen
I loved this book! Reading it was like sitting at a table across from the author with a pot of tea between us. Parts of it brought tears to my eyes. This woman has a zest for life and an ability to make friends wherever she goes. I envy her! She falls in love in Paris, meets a bride-to-be in Milan, and learns ballroom dancing in Oxford. What an adventure! What a story!
Satisfied. That's how I felt after finishing Without Reservations: The Travels of An Independent Woman. by Alice Steinbach. This book has been on my travel book shelf for ages. Every time I thought I'd read it I'd pass it on by. Originally I thought I'd read it for the travel aspect. Now as I get ready to retire it seemed just the right time to read Steinbach's take on the journey of a lifetime; an exploration of self discovery.

Steinbach, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist considered herself a
Now that summer is officially over, and I spend most of my waking hours sequestered in a classroom, I seek out travel books so that at least my mind can pretend it is somewhere else. Usually, I am attracted to exotic travel tales, so at first I was not that impressed that Alice Steinbach chose to spend her six months abroad in western Europe. I could not imagine what exciting adventures she could get into in England, France, and Italy, but as I read on Alice explained that the point of her trip ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Feb 26, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Who Enjoy Hallmark Card Writing
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Ultimate Reading List - Travel
I picked up this book because it was recommended on The Ultimate Reading List. The back cover called Steinback a "Pulitzer Prize-Winning" journalist, so I anticipated something special. Unfortunately, the author inspired the snarky in me right from the introduction. She said she decided to travel because she had dropped into "the habit of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people." Oh, so this was going to be one of those "find myself" books, was it? I'm rather suspicious of that kin ...more
The topics of the book-traveling through parts of Europe, and becoming independent as a mature woman-were interesting to me, but I was disappointed in the structure and flow of writing in this book. The story was told in an uneven fashion, with lingering descriptions of seemingly minor incidents, and quick summations of major travel events. The writing often seemed disjointedl ike a list of events, or quick notes on a postcard (which is a device she uses to begin each chapter). Toward the end o ...more
The title is the first problem with this book. The author has reservations in almost all of her destinations. I imagined a book about a woman with a backpack and train pass with no specific timeline...wrong. The second problem is that she never pulls the reader in. Steinbach writes as though she were an observer in the experiences, not a participant. It left me feeling cold and lonely...It just wasn't good travel writing. What a disappointment.[return][return]It is possible my experience reading ...more
Sep 18, 2008 Wystan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All women!
Recommended to Wystan by: Ronnie Schwam
I LOVED the comments that Alice Steinbach made during her travels. So many astute observations that I found myself nodding in agreement with.

An excellent book to inspire the soul with. As I told the friend that I passed Without Reservations on to, this book retaught me that we are not defined by where we come from, what we do, or the roles we have come to fulfill: we simply are who we are. And that's just how it should be.

"Dangerous": Made me want to sit in a cafe and write in my journal all day
I really enjoyed this book. It was a very easy read - she writes simply and the chapters are short. If you have ever traveled to Paris or Italy, you'll like her descriptions and how she connected differently to each city/area. Also, it is not just a travel book, but a book about self-discovery at an older age.

A nice bonus: the author offers a great idea for how to keep a diary/document your travels: she write & mails postcards home to herself. What a wonderful idea!

Hope some of you pick thi
Upon turning the first pages of this book, I note the contents. I am planning a trip to Europe in the spring and I notice Steinbach's travels are Paris, London, Oxford, and Italy. I'm excited because these are the EXACT locations I plan to travel to. Paris (not all of France), London (not all of England) and Italy, just as she's named; the entire country. Hmmm....quite interesting; I'm was immediately intrigued.

This book did not disappoint. Alice takes a leave from work and her busy life to tra
Pamela Pickering
Nov 29, 2010 Pamela Pickering rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ann, Susan, Mom, Valerie
"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.
Love, Alice"

At first I was a li
Although the writing was sometimes over-sentimental and the author's insights about independence and traveling alone were not particularly surprising, I really enjoyed this book. I liked reading about all of the small details of the author's day, especially her delicious breakfasts with hot coffee and rolls and fruit, spent enjoying beautiful weather and people-watching. Just the record of those insignificant moments is so evocative of the feeling you get when eating a leisurely breakfast on a d ...more
Oct 11, 2007 Cecilia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travelers
Shelves: favorites
Go on a trip through Europe without leaving your home with famed journalist Steinbach in this wonderful travel memoir. Steinbach does a fabulous job of not only setting the visual scenes of each locale, but also adding her own personal sensibility to each page. She did all of the traveling she talks about in this book all on her own so the stories are, in addition to being about European ways and customs, about the life of the single wanderer. Since this book is more about the author and less ab ...more
This was kind of like listening to a friend tell about her trip. You really want to hear about it, you really do, but then she just keeps going on and on about the little details that don't really matter to anyone but her. At one point, it sounded like bragging. I would have enjoyed more about the people and less about the little things she did, like shoe shopping. She didn't even bring back the relevance of buying the shoes. This was a book that I couldn't wait to end.
Steinbach put aside her job as a writer for the Baltimore Sun to travel in Europe with no agenda other than to rediscover who she was as a woman. She had been a wife, a mother, and a writer, but she felt as if she had somehow lost who she was to herself. Having traveled to many of the locations that she went, I found myself reminiscing about my own vacations. I really loved the way that she wrote as well.
Sep 05, 2008 Arlene rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arlene by: book club
This book seemed bland. I wondered how it got published, versus more deserving books, but I assume the author, a journalist, had a built-in audience. She tells some of WHAT happened, in summary (she gets ill and is helped by people, she has an affair) but she doesn't provide much detail of HOW it happened. The reader doesn't experience it.
I'm giving up on this book - it just didn't keep me interested. It's hard for me not to just finish it as I hate leaving a book before the end, but I just can't do it.
I wish I could give this something stronger than a "didn't like it." This book was terrible - the writing and the story are treacly and shallow.
I think I'm too cynical for books like this. I think I like the idea of them more than I like the reality. The basic premise - middle-aged divorced mother of two suffering from empty-nest-syndrome drops out of her life to travel around Europe alone and 'find herself' - is so overdone, so clichéd, that I almost found myself rolling my eyes on every page.

I found it an enjoyable enough read, don't get me wrong - it's always entertaining to see familiar places through others' eyes, and Steinbach is
This one all but leapt into my arms as I walked through the 900 section of the library on a gloomy February day. "You need me!" it said. Did I ever.

I had really enjoyed Ms. Steinbach's "Educating Alice" a few years ago, and this was equally delightful--an account of her year away from her Baltimore journalist job spent in Paris, London, Oxford, and Italy. I've long thought Ms. Steinbach and I would get along famously. We travel much the same way: architectural marvels and museums, yes, but also
How many of us fall into patterns that we become dependent on? We do the same things with the same people because that is how we have always lived our life. I believe it takes effort and independence to change this inclination to be who we have always been.

Alice Steinbach has the chutzpah to make changes to her life. She decides to put her independence to the test. I admire her for that. To journey by yourself to Europe without a complete itinerary, seems difficult to me. Steinbach goes to Paris
Dec 01, 2008 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travelers, women, anyone who likes memoirs.
I received this book as a graduation gift, and I saved it to read when I was traveling. This turned out to be a good approach, because Steinbach's topic is a set of travels in Europe. I lucked out by traveling to a couple of her desinations without planning to, which added to the fun. I loved her literate and reflective style, which was interesting without being self-indulgent. There aren't any roller coaster highs and lows here, but there are some fun stories and observations. I found it refres ...more
The is the wonderfully satisfying memoir of Alice Steinbach's "Year of Living Dangerously" when she takes courage to set aside the life she's created as mother, columnist and American to move to Europe for a year of sabbatical and exploration (of the cities and herself). Hugely inspiring book to me (I read it post my own sabbatical) and great stories of those Alice meets, her walks, her adventures and her dreams.
Alice's travels were peasant and interesting if not particularly courageous. She visited places that are very welcoming to tourists. I was surprised that she joined an organized group of Americans in Italy. As someone who also travels independently, I find this a bit odd. To accept a program organized by a group is the antithesis of independent travel. Still, anyone can get lonely and it did take some courage for her to leave her job and her former life in the US, even on a temporary basis. Alic ...more
Ashley Lauren
This is the kind of memoir I hope I never write.

As cruel as that sounds, it's what was going through my head as I read Steinbach's tales of her so-called "Year of Living Dangerously." (Actually, she may have called it something else but I really don't want to re-read any of the book in order to find the correct wording.) Steinbach's telling of her "adventure" consisted almost entirely of pre-made plans that were completely safe and her being chatted up by entirely harmless and friendly people wh
To me, this worked okay as a travel guide. I only read the Paris and Italy sections because I found the England section too dull to get through.

I live in very nomadic world where people go off all the time by him/herself on a pilgrimage or quest of some kind and they are always adventures and journeys of self-discovery, but they don't have a padded bank account or the assurance of a job to return to, they aren't doing it because they're bored and trying to relive the glory days of their 20s, so
Well, here we go with more travel writing. This was one of those books that inspired me with the old idea of picking up my life and completely changing everything by going to some exotic place and starting over. Alice Steinbach is a Pulitzer winning journalist who picked up her life for a year and went to Europe to reconnect with herself. She started out in Paris, went to London, Oxford, and Italy, and her self discovery observations had me dog-earring every other page so I could add them to my ...more
"In many ways, I was an independent woman," writes ... Alice Steinbach. "For years I'd made my own choices, paid my own bills, shoveled my own snow." But somehow she had become dependent in quite 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." But who was she away from the people and things that defined her? In this exquisite book, Steinbach searches for the answer to this question in some of the most beautiful ...more
Debbie Petersen
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I looked forward to picking it up from the nightstand each evening. It is not the type of book to keep you up all night, unable to put it down; it is more like one that gently lulls you to sleep. I loved the postcard idea, and oddly enough did the same thing myself this year while in Spain. The card was lost and never arrived. This just means I need to go back and write more of them. :-)

I enjoyed her observations and gentle musings. The only reason I was
Aug 07, 2008 Carrie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Single Travelers
Recommended to Carrie by: Borders- Travel Section
A journalist and divorced grandmother renews her sense of spirit by living and traveling in Europe alone for a year.

Focused on Venice, Paris and England- it was an easy read but a bit boring. If you want to read this genre I prefer Under the Tuscan Sun or the follow up entitled "Educating Alice."

Author: Alice Steinbach
Publisher: Random House
Copyright: 2000
Genre: Travel Memoir
Pages: 278
Date Read- 8/1- 8/4/08

p. 5
To much of life- my life, anyway- seemed to be aimed at achieving success a
I read this because I enjoyed "Adventures of a curious woman" so much, and this one came first. You can tell how this one is the precursor -- the warm up journey, a bit more loose and rambling than the precisely scheduled "Adventures"...I had a strange reaction to this book, as the author is in her 50's and is just now taking the time to travel europe on her own, learn about herself outside the context of her fast-paced career (as a pulitzer prize winning journalist) -- as she talks about Paris, ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone
  • A Woman Alone: Travel Tales from Around the Globe
  • Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World
  • Mediterranean Summer: A Season on France's Côte d'Azur and Italy's Costa Bella
  • The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure
  • Living in a Foreign Language: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Love in Italy
  • On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town
  • 100 Places Every Woman Should Go
  • A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller
  • An Italian Affair
  • The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Olive Oil in the South of France
  • 360 Degrees Longitude: One Family's Journey Around the World
  • Expat: Women's True Tales of Life Abroad
  • Extra Virgin: Amongst the Olive Groves of Liguria
  • An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude
  • One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children
  • The Hills of Tuscany
  • A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure
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.
More about Alice Steinbach...
Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman The Miss Dennis School of Writing: And Other Lessons from a Woman S Life Educating Alice

Share This Book

“I suspected, however, that I wasn't homesick for anything I would find at home when I returned. The longing was for what I wouldn't find: the past and all the people and places there were lost to me.” 89 likes
“And who's to say that just because something lasts only a short time, it has little value?” 26 likes
More quotes…