Around The World On Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride Paperback – Oct 1 2008
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The lives of women in the 1890s were constrained by social mores, family obligations, and restrictive clothing. Annie Kopchovsky, immigrant, wife, and mother of three, seems to have had no qualms about doing the opposite of what the times dictated. So liberated was Annie that she cooked up a scheme to circle the globe on a bicycleeven though she had barely been on a biketo earn fame and money. She abandoned her husband and children and made up a traveling identity, calling herself Annie Londonderry. Her journey began in New York, where she worked for a bicycle company, but in Chicago she negotiated a new contract with a different bicycle company and started over. She did succeed in circling the globe with a fair share of hype and flimflammery, but did she fulfill the terms of the contract? Well researched and written by a great-nephew of Annie's, this reclaimed true story illuminates family life, journalism, advertising, and recreation of that transitional era. As for Annie, she was a remarkable woman and well worth getting to know. Hoover, Danise --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Peter Zheutlin, the author of Around the World on Two Wheels, is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared regularly in the Boston Globe and the Christian Science Monitor. Peter has also written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, AARP The Magazine, and other publications. He lives in Needham, Massachusetts.
Barrett Whitener has won half a dozen coveted AudioFile Earphones Awards for his audiobook narration. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Annie was the first woman to ride her bicycle around the world, possibly as part of a contest. It's just as likely, however, that she fabricated an excuse to travel because she felt claustrophobic, trapped within the societal constraints placed on women during the Victorian era. The author, Peter Zheutlin, writes Annie's story with tenderness (he's a descendent of Annie's, but I suspect he would do so regardless), yet also with appropriate skepticism and rich historical detail. (Read the endnotes!)
While following in the wake of her fierce independence and almost reckless energy, the reader also explores the impact Annie's journey had on the advancement of women's rights, as well as uncomfortable questions it posed about traditional roles - including her own role as wife and mother.
I'm recommending "Around the World on Two Wheels" for my book club selection next month. We'll have plenty of issues to discuss, and we'll get to do so in the company of one incredibly memorable character -- Annie Londonderry.
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