SPIN: A Novel
From the author of
the New York Times best seller:
“Spin is a thrilling story that will keep the reader breathless until the end. This mostly true story begins with a bored housewife and mother in the 1890’s who takes a wager to circle the world on a bicycle. The reader gets to ride along with Annie as she meets the most famous people of the day and finds love and adventure in every long mile. This tale will stay with you long after Annie’s last ride.” — The Southern Bookseller Review
Who was Annie Londonderry? She captured the popular imagination with her daring ‘round the world trip on two wheels. It was, declared the New York World in October of 1895, “the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman.”
But beyond the headlines, Londonderry was really Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, a young, Jewish mother of three small children, who climbed onto a 42-pound Columbia bicycle and pedaled away into history.
Reportedly set in motion by a wager between two wealthy Boston merchants, the bet required Annie not only to circle the earth by bicycle in 15 months, but to earn $5,000 en route, as well. This was no mere test of a woman’s physical endurance and mental fortitude; it was a test of a woman’s ability to fend for herself in the world.
Often attired in a man’s riding suit, Annie turned every Victorian notion of female propriety on its head. Not only did she abandon, temporarily, her role of wife and mother (scandalous in the 1890s), she earned her way selling photographs of herself, appearing as an attraction in stores, and by turning herself into a mobile billboard.
I am a descendent of Annie’s, and in Spin I probe the inner life and seeming boundless courage of this outlandish, brash, and charismatic woman. In a time when women could not vote and few worked outside the home, Annie was a master of public relations, a consummate self-promoter, and a skillful creator of her own myth. Yet, for more than a century her remarkable story was lost to history. In Spin, this remarkable heroine and her marvelous, stranger-than-fiction story is vividly brought to life for a new generation.
“From the travails of pedaling a 42-pound bicycle over shoddy roads to the adjustments Annie made to her riding costume and her enterprising approach toward financing her journey, Spin gives an account of Annie’s travels fizzing with admiration for her moxie. Zheutlin, one of Annie’s descendants, adeptly handles her propensity to make up stories to drum up publicity, creating an adventure that grapples with a remarkable woman’s secrets and shortcomings.” — Booklist
“What a fresh and fun basis for a work of historical fiction: A sensational 15-month around-the-world cycling journey by Annie Cohen Kopchovksy, a young Boston mother motivated by the lure of a $10,000 prize — and, no less, the chance to escape the drudgery of motherhood.” — The Jerusalem Post Magazine
NOTE FOR BOOK CLUBS! I am happy to join you by video chat or by phone for all or part of your discussion of SPIN. Just use the Contact link above. For more information about Annie visit www.annielondonderry.com. Please feel free to use the SPIN Book Club Reading Guide to kick off your next book club discussion! — Peter Zheutlin