Chattanooga society goes on tilt as a young woman has the audacity to ride a bicycle—in bloomers!
It’s 1895 and Anna Gaines struggles to get past her insecurities and discover her calling in life. When she’s drawn to the new sport of bicycling, a scandalous activity for a proper southern young woman, she faces opposition, misunderstanding, and scorn. Southern women just did not engage in activities meant for men.
To determine if women will share the same rights as men, Anna must race the president of the cycle club. But more is at stake than the outcome of a race.
- Will Anna make the right decisions about her life?
- Will true love find a way?
- Will Anna choose to live a quiet, traditional life as a housewife and mother? Or will she pursue college and become one of the “new women” emerging into the 20th century?
Faith, patience, and courage in adversity help a young woman become the person she was meant to be.
Something about this book’s description appealed to me. Perhaps it’s because I’m often to be found watching my husband compete in bike races.
Did you know the first dedicated bicycle path in the United States opened in Brooklyn, New York, in 1895? This was new information to me as I read the opening pages of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race. This is the location where Anna develops her love of cycling, which she then takes home with her to Chattanooga, Tennessee. She decides to continue her love affair and is aided by various family members and friends, but there is opposition from both men and other women. Not everyone is as they seem, however, and some people oppose for reasons which have nothing to do with her personally.
The actual bike race of the title doesn’t take place until the final 30 pages of the novel. It wasn’t quite what I expected when I first picked up the book, but that might have been due to my personal experiences of bicycle racing. The majority of the novel focuses on Anna’s experiences in her home town, the opposition she faces, the way her life changes, and the town meetings leading up to the race. We also see inside the lives of people who support and oppose her, including one woman you want to immensely dislike but instead find yourself feeling sorry for her.
Although the bicycle is the main focus of the book, I preferred a secondary story involving a former slave woman and her family. It’s 30 years since the end of the Civil War, but Reconstruction has come and gone. Anna befriends Hattie Washington and learns that her husband had disappeared while looking for work in a neighboring state. Peter Sawyer, local businessman and president of the Cycling Club, gets involved and the resulting storyline is an eye-opening one about how former slaves were often treated in the south after the policies of Reconstruction ended. This is definitely an historical novel about how the south had to face change, in more ways than one.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Redemption Press for my complimentary copy of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour
Have you read The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Redemption Press
Publication Date: 10 April 2017
Page Count: 344