Spin: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story
By Peter Zheutlin '75
From the publisher: Ride away on a 'round-the-world adventure of a lifetime—with only a change of clothes and a pearl-handled revolver—in this transcendent novel inspired by the life of Annie Londonderry.
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.
Zheutlin, a descendent of Annie, brilliantly probes 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.