Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
April 09, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

It would be simple to hate Steinbach’s guts. While the rest of us are tending to families, friends, and jobs, she threw them all to the wind to learn cooking at the Ritz in Paris, study Wakayagi dancing in Kyoto, explore the gardens of Provence, etc. In other words, she didn’t wait for a lottery win to just…go. If you could send your best friend on a journey for you, you could only hope she’d have Steinbach’s generosity of reporting. And like her too-infrequent mentions of a great love to whom she writes letters, Educating Alice falters only in leaving the reader wanting more.

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