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
    Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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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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Reader Reviews

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Judith G. (Ewa Beach, HI)

My vicarious first rally
Finding a couple with such opposite yet complementary personas....I was immediately hooked. So many times I laughed seeing my husband and myself in the same situations. A marvelous, descriptive guide to places in the world I won't see anytime soon. Car talk vs ballet. I know that scenario. This book delighted me and I was sorry to get to the end. Knowing Dina Bennett is still writing and traveling makes me eager to read her next blog or book. I'm insisting my husband read the book even knowing he's NOT a reader...but he does fix cars when necessary.

Deb Y. (Blanco, TX)

Just a short junket
I do so wish I had the nerve to do what Dina Bennett did when she went from Paris to Peking as the navigator for a road race with her husband......she and I would be good friends, I think, as we have one foot in the "want-to" and the other foot in "oh, no - I can't do that." What an adventure for all involved! To say more would be a major spoiler, but please read the book - it's definitely more than a travelogue!

Anna R. (Oak Ridge, TN)

What a Trip!
Okay, if you have ever wondered what it would be like to be in a classic car with your husband for 30 days racing half way around the world, this is the book for you! Oh yes, it would be especially fun if you suffer from car sickness. Told from the wife's view point, it is funny, scary and highly entertaining. A fun read!

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.

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.

Diane W. (Lake Villa, IL)

I imagined myself with my Ex!
As someone who experienced some not so stellar trips with my ex-husband, I imagined myself on this road with the characters! I, too, always found that humor is what saved me from a completely awful experience. Because I have never traveled outside of the US, I was hoping for more details about the countries themselves --- I guess a bit more of a travelogue to imagine the actual journey they took. And, the car sickness hit a bit too close to home for me who has suffered from it since childhood! All in all, though, an enjoyable read --- different and fun.

...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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