Dina Bennett is a worrywart with a penchant for daydreaming - the combination of which landed her on the 35-day Peking to Paris Motor Challenge with her husband, Bernard, and a trunk full of anxiety. Bennett's worries and flights of fancy come alive in Katherine Dyer's spirited narration, which charmingly captures the young woman's formative moments (including the first time she walked, and how she fell in love with her dashing French husband) up to the 7,800-mile car race that could conceivably ruin her marriage. Funny, emotional, and transformative, Peking to Paris: Life and Love on a Short Drive Around Half the World is a travel story that will charm even the most reluctant armchair adventurer.
In this thrilling road trip from "Peking to Paris", a woman tries to save her car, her marriage, and her confidence from breaking down.
In May 2007, leaving China’s Great Wall is Car 84, one of 128 antique autos racing in the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. It’s guided by one Dina Bennett, the world’s least likely navigator: a daydreamer prone to carsickness, riddled with self-doubt, and married to a thrill-seeking perfectionist who is half-human, half-racecar. What could possibly go wrong?
Funny, self-deprecating, and marred by only a few acts of great fortitude, Peking to Paris is first and foremost a voyage of transformation. The listener is swept on a wild, emotional ride, with romance and adversity, torment and triumph. Starting in Beijing, Dina and her husband, Bernard, limp across the Gobi, Siberia, Baltic States, and south to Paris in a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle, while Dina nurses the absurd hope that she can turn herself into a person of courage and patience.
Writing for every woman who’s ever doubted herself and any man who’s wondered what the woman traveling with him is thinking, Dina brings the reader with her as she deftly sidesteps rock-throwing Mongolians and locks horns with Russians left over from the Interpol era - not to mention getting a sandstorm facial and racing rabbits on a curvy country road. Come along for the ride with a dashboard diva!
If you could sum up Peking to Paris in three words, what would they be?
Antique cars, exotic countries, and adventure
What did you like best about this story?
I found this book to be a fun, light read, due in large part to the author's self deprecating sense of humour. Even though she appears to know little about cars, how they run, or how to fix them than myself ; where she excels is in describing their adventures driving in the crème de la crème of car rallies. Originally I had bought the book because I like adventure and travel stories and wanted to hear what it was like travelling by car through some very far away and remote countries. The book does talk about that to some extent, but it's really more a story about the couples experiences within the rally, including their relationships with fellow rally members and their beloved car. I was not disappointed and enjoyed it and if Dana chose to write another book about their car adventures, perhaps to Patagonia, I would probably purchase it too.
Have you listened to any of Katherine Dyer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
This is the first time I've listened to a performance by Katherine Dyer but thought she played the part of the author/ narrator fairly well, given the fact that the author is an all American girl married to a French man, who Dyer attempts to impersonates through Dana character.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The book kept me interested from beginning to end.