Peking to Paris: Life and Love on a Short Drive Around Half the Worldby Dina Bennett
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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 reader 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!
- Skyhorse Publishing
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Meet the Author
Dina Bennett was born in Manhattan. After five years as a PR executive, she joined her husband’s software localization company as senior VP of sales and marketing. The two worked side-by-side until they sold the firm in 1998 and abandoned corporate life for a hay and cattle ranch. Since then she has untangled herself from barbed wire just long enough to get into even worse trouble in old cars on over 50,000 miles of far-off roads. She resides in Bend, Oregon.
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Some books are written to be instructional; others serve to stir the senses - creating joy, agony, passion, misery, love and raw emotion. Peking to Paris… is all of the above and more. The story of Dina Bennett and her husband, Bernard, tracks their 7800-mile odyssey as they endure the long, treacherous, uncomfortable and, at times, beautiful journey that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the famed Peking to Paris 2007 Motor Challenge. Dina has difficulty reading while riding in a car (which anyone who is prone to car-sickness can appreciate) and given her long history of motion sickness, it seems outlandish that she will agree to go along with her husband’s plan to be the navigator to his driver for this Rally. For Dina, it is the sacrifice she is willing to make to re-connect with her husband after 20 years of marriage; for Bernard, it is the thrill of a lifetime to compete in this august Rally. Their commitment to the Rally is tested on each segment of the nearly 35-day expedition. Freezing nights and stiflingly hot days, a 1940 LaSalle 52 Coupe (dubbed Roxanne) that breaks down constantly throughout the Rally, and people who are avid racing enthusiasts, automobile devotees and reluctant companions make for a revealing, eye-opening adventure that will delight the novice and motor enthusiast, alike. Dina writes with integrity and humor, sharing her challenges, fears, hopes, disappointments and ultimate victory with the reader, as she chronicles her naiveté at the beginning of the trip, balanced against the stark reality that enfolds her and Bernard as the journey progresses. She paints beautiful pictures with her choice of words on every page. The final chapter is heart-warming and satisfying. Appendices offer details referencing Roxanne’s rebuild list, what the couple packed in their car for the journey, a list of vehicles that participated in the Rally, the daily Rally distance and overnight stops, as well as Rally terminology. For every woman who wonders if she can stretch beyond the fear of facing down the greatest challenge before her and every man who dreams of participating in the adventure of a lifetime – obstacles be damned – you’ll find something to love about this book.