Title: While the World Is Still Asleep
Author: Petra Durst-Benning
Published Date: February 23rd 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction,
Page Count: 421
My Rating: ★ ★
It isn’t easy for a
woman to cut loose in 1890s Berlin. But the winds of change are blowing,
and nothing can stop Josephine from pursuing her dreams.
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 called the “velocipede.” The very idea of a woman on
a bicycle is beyond taboo—it is indecent and even illegal—but Josephine
will not be deterred. She simply needs to find a way to ride without
provoking a scandal. Back home, Josephine has the brilliant idea of
riding under cover of night, while the world is still asleep. But
Berlin’s streets are dangerous, especially on a bicycle.
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
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
"It would be foolish to keep crying about the past and things that shouldn't have turned out the way they did."
This story follows Jo, Clara, and Isabella and how bicycles have
affected there lives. While the main focus of the story is Jo, every few
chapters we see things from Clara and Isabella's point of view.
is a headstrong young lady who is going to ride a bike no matter the
consequences because she needs an escape from her life with unloving
parents who would rather blame her constantly for her brother's death,
then show her they care for her.
Clara is a pharmacist daughter
who wants to be just like him and be one of the first women to attend
University and get a degree in pharmacology.
Isabella is the
daughter of a rich factory owner, whose father is trying to marry her
off to the most well-to-do man in order for them to social climb. All
while Isabella hates it, but puts on the act that she loves it.
When Jo gets sent to the Black Forest by the neighbor Freida do to
her cough getting worse, she sees a bike and not only a bike but also a
girl riding a bike on one of her long walks. As she gets to become
friends with this girl (Lilo) she learns that it is becoming the next
big thing, but girls aren't allowed to ride because it isn't ladylike or
for the "fairer sex". Jo doesn't let that stop her though and while she
is there she convinces Lilo to let her try. They become good friends.
When Jo is better and is sent back home, she set her sights on getting a
bike. Until she learns that their old friend Isabella's father has a
With this information Jo goes to Isabella and asks to see
it, and then ride it. After they all see, how well Jo can ride Clara and
Isabella want to give it a try. This causes the girls to go over to
Isabella's house several times a week so they can ride the bike in her
parents yard without the rest of the town seeing them. Then, when
Isabella gets her own bike for her birthday causing them now to be able
to ride without having to worry about their skirts as much. They
continue to ride the bikes inside the fenced yard until Clara ends up
getting hurt, and that's when Isabella and Jo start going for night
After they get caught, coming home from a night ride
by Isabella's father they are banned from bikes. While Isabella
listens Jo does not. When Jo gets into a wreck one night while riding
she gets caught and sent to jail for three years! While there though she
finally gets to learn how to be a mechanic.
With Jo in prison, we get to see things from Clara and Isabella's point
of view. Clara ends up getting married and dropping her dream of
becoming a pharmacist. Isabella ends up getting engaged to Adrian.
Together they end up putting off the wedding multiple times due to it
being a sham and then finally calling off the engagement. While they
were still engaged though Adrian helped Isabella create the first
women's bicycle club and racing competitions.
Once Jo gets out she finds out that she inherits the neighbor Freida's
house and that's when she sets up a repair shop of her own. With
everyone in town coming to her to repair things, she has no time for bikes or a club that is until Isabella gets, her accepted
and Adrian helps her get a bike. Once she has a bike she ends up giving
for night rides again, except this time with Adrian. This slowly leads
to her and Adrian falling for each other and even though his engagement to Isabella is a sham Jo can't help, but feel that it is wrong. Once Adrian goes to America to try and get
cheaper bikes imported to Germany for the common man/women. Jo and
Isabella start going on night rides again. Not to long after this a
racing woman from another country comes and asks the ladies at the womens' bicycle club to come and take part in a 600 mile 4 day race. Only three agree and Jo also invites Lilo who has been becoming a racing woman all across Europe. As they train for the race they realize how grueling it will be, but
that doesn't stop them and they want to prove to everyone that women
riding bicycles isn't horrible or harmful in any way. Once they've all
finished the race and made up for the arguments they had had. We see Clara, Isabella and Jo all becoming friends again even though they are all in different stages of life.
For me this story didn't get interesting until Jo got out of Jail and we got to see her get back into life, and then again when the bicycle race finally happened.
I can't help, but feel like if this story had been a little bit shorter,
or if maybe it was so much information at once in certain parts I would
have liked it better. I would only suggest this book if you are a
person who is really into bikes and wants to know the history of them.
Thank you to Netgalley and Amazon Crossing for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.