The first in a new series from Petra Durst-Benning, the bestselling author of The Glassblower series.
An inspiring historical tale of one woman risking it all for her dreams set in 1890s Berlin.
After the tragic death of her little brother, Josephine travels to the Black Forest to heal. There she discovers a feeling of freedom astride a brand-new invention: the bicycle. The very idea of a woman on a bicycle is beyond taboo—it is indecent and even illegal—but Josephine will not be deterred. Back home, Josephine rides under cover of night, while the world is still asleep so as not to provoke a scandal. But Berlin’s streets are dangerous and the winds of change are blowing.
Can Josephine’s fighting heart help her overcome the obstacles in her path? Will the passion she feels for this new adventure lead her toward true love?
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While the World is Still Asleep by Petra Durst-Benning is the first book in The Century Trilogy. Josephine “Jo” is telling her story. We start out with her in an accident and in trouble with the law (I know. It makes no sense.) Jo ends up in prison for 3 and a half years. Jo then goes back to tell us about the death of her brother, Freddie?? He was twelve years old and fascinated with fire. One Sunday Jo was ordered to watch him while her parents went off for the day to visit relatives. Jo watched him for a while and then went to visit friends. Freddie found the key to the barn where their father had his smithy. Freddie was told he was not allowed in the there. He went in and found matches. As you can imagine he started setting fire to paper. Sparks from the burning paper flew into the hay and soon the whole barn is one fire. Jo tried to rescue him, but Freddie had locked the doors. Jo was unable to break the doors down. She was found unconscious in front of the barn. Freddie died in the fire. Her parents blame her for the boy’s death and treat her like a pariah. Jo developed a horrible cough from the smoke inhalation that would not go away. A neighbor, ?? convinces Jo’s parents to send her to a sanatorium in the Black Forest (the neighbor had to pay for it). Jo found a friend named Lilo (also a relative of neighbors). She introduced Jo to the velocipede (pedal bicycle). Jo loved it and her cough went away (the writer makes it out to be psychosomatic—in her head). Jo becomes obsessed with riding bicycles. Women were not supposed to be on bicycles. They were deemed too much for the “weaker sex” (it is also considered indecent and illegal). Jo returns home to her hateful parents who insist she work from dawn to way past dusk in the smithy for no pay. Jo discovers that Isabelle’s (a girl from school) father has a bicycle. This becomes Jo’s obsession. Jo wants to ride and this leads to her biggest mistake. It is unfortunate for Jo that cycling is a men’s sport and bicycles are extremely expensive (all made by hand in Germany). Come see what Jo does While the World is Still Asleep! While the World is Still Asleep is one slow paced novel that is way, way too long. It contains good writing, but (I’m sorry) it’s boring (alright just plain dull). Basically, you get to see what Jo goes through to enjoy cycling. This is just the first book in the series. This story could have easily been finished in one novel. I give While the World is Still Asleep 3 out of 5 stars. The book just needed something to liven it up and keep the readers interest. It is way too long for it to be unfinished (can you imagine two more books on this subject). I received a complimentary copy of While the World is Still Asleep from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.