Book Review: The Velocipede Races

07 February, 2016

Bicycles and books. Two of my favorite things. When Elly Blue linked a Kickstarter fund of a book covered with a large neon pink corset and Victorian silhouette holding a vintage racing bicycle, I had to find out what it was all about. Which lead me to finding The Velocipede Races by Emily June Street. As I wondered onto Microcosm Publishing's website, I read a synopsis of "tough girl rebels against stifling gender rules... dreaming of racing her bicycle in the cutthroat velocipede races..." Already, I had found a kindred spirited character and began to download it onto my Kindle.

As I turned the pages into the world of The Velocipede Races, I found the novels heroine, Emmeline Escot, in Serenian society where only men can race and pursue pleasure while women are expected to marry, stay home and please their husbands. For Emmeline, these restrictions bound her to a secret that may ruin her if she is found under her disguise.

 Emmeline's  external world of Seren intersects with the internal world of her rebellious character. Her struggle against social adversity, along with her physical and emotional struggle brings the reader to the very doors of their own adversity. An adversity so many of us riders know too well. Conflict, fear, heart pounding competition, and romance all collide into a battle with a young woman who's eager to fight against the tight lacings of restrictive corsets and gender rules to make her dream (and many other women's) come true.

The bicycle has always meant more to women. For Emmeline, it certainly meant freedom. This book weaves in the history of women and cycling into a fictional story about one girls journey into her emancipation. Not only is this the first novel that I've read that weaves in these themes, it also comes with many firsts: first steampunk novel, first YA steampunk feminist/bicycle racing novel, and my first love into the work of Emily June Street.

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