Peking to Paris: Book summary and reviews of Peking to Paris by Dina Bennett

Peking to Paris

Life and Love on a Short Drive Around Half the World

By Dina Bennett

Peking to Paris
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  • Published in USA  May 2013,
    276 pages.

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Book Summary

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 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!

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A fun ride, worth the trip ... her writing captures the beauty of the austere landscape, changing social dynamics with other teams and the nuances of her shifting relationship with her husband." - Kirkus

"2013 Top 10 Travel Books." - Publishers Weekly

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Tracy B. (New Castle, DE)
A saggy trunk
Dina sets forth in an adventure that changed her life in ways that she never would have expected. The first challenge was Roxanne, the car that would take them from Peking to Paris. Dina initially sat back & let husband Bernard take charge of getting Roxanne road ready.

Dina was the navigator that couldn't mean much. The story was more about Dina's opening up and seeing the world, fast lanes, letting loose & new friendships like never before.

This isn't what I would call a Travel Guide it is about weather, car repairs (or not). Maybe a Rally Guide for the new navigator. An O.K. read.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Evonne L. (Lakeport, CA)
Peking to Paris
My expectations were a bit too high; the descriptive title and lovely cover had me intrigued by the subject and excited to learn more about the journey and how it influenced the author's relationship with her husband. A few chapters into the narrative I found myself a bit annoyed with the continual descriptions of the author's personal character flaws; I already "got it" and did not need the constant reminders of the more challenging aspects of her personality and how they related to the journey ahead. Generally I can read a book of this size within a day or two of my busy schedule but it did not maintain my interest enough so it took several weeks to finish it.

I rated the book as average because there were redeeming qualities to the story, however, I would like to have been able to get a more visual picture of the amazing countryside they traveled and anticipated a deeper and more lovely description of how their relationship was transformed by partnership in the rally. Overall, a nice attempt by the author to share her personal experience with us and she indicates there are more adventures ahead for this couple; my recommendation would be for more visual writing of the landscape and a richer description of the relational in order to provide something of value to the reader.

Thank you for the opportunity to read this book.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Linda P. (Medford, WI)
Car Rally Delight
This was a quick read which took me on an adventure I was totally unfamiliar with. The thought of traveling 7,901 miles in
a 1940 La Salle from China to France recreating a rally race from 100 years ago is mind-boggling. I enjoyed the novelty of the rally itself, the constant mechanical issues, & the interaction of the racers. The luxury of being able to do something of this nature is way beyond me, but many thanks for letting me come along vicariously through your book.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Emily G. (Clear Lake, MN)
Lively rally of a read
Peking to Paris is a lively romp across many countries as the author and her husband participate in a car race. Bennett is an engaging narrator, writing like the reader is a close girlfriend.

I felt like I was racing across the continent with the team, which is exactly what they were doing. I wanted more detail about the places they went and people they met, but the author notes that she did too. So, I think the book reads much like the event it covers.

Bennett honestly describes her fears and worries, and her relationship with her husband. The self-reflection makes it easy to identify with her and want to read more. At the end, she writes that they continued on many other adventures and I would be happy to join them, should a sequel be forthcoming.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Carol J. (Isle, MN)
The starts and stops of travel
I found Peking to Paris to be very unevenly written. As I thought about the writing of this review I did wonder if Dina Bennett writing in the book was a metaphor for her trip; lots of starts and stops, very uneven. It was almost as if she couldn't quite decide on the focus for the book; her relationship, the car, the rally...I would agree with other reviewers in that I anticipated more of a travelogue or a detailed account of the rally. Again, seemed like she couldn't quite decide on the focus.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Susan J. (Twain Harte, CA)
Peking to Paris: Not just for travelers
Ignore the cover - this is not a Sophie Kinsella novel. It's an engaging tale of an almost 8,000 mile car rally in 2007 across China, Mongolia, Siberia, and on to Paris. Dina Bennett, the author, couldn't be more different from her older French husband: he's a confident, experienced driver, she's a self-doubting, carsick worrier. How these two manage this adventure makes a great read. Dina's vivid descriptions and self-deprecating humor make her real to the reader; Bernard remains more two-dimensional. The real prize for Dina is not a bronze medal but personal growth and deepening of her marital relationship.

...13 more reader reviews

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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.

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