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While the World Is Still Asleep

(Die Jahrhundertwind-Trilogie #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  3,757 ratings  ·  256 reviews
The first in a new series from Petra Durst-Benning, the bestselling author of The Glassblower series.

An inspiring historical tale of one woman risking it all for her dreams set in 1890s Berlin.

After 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: the bicycle. The
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Amazon Crossing (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Jo (The Book Geek)
"While the world is still asleep" is the first book in "The century trilogy" and I must say, I love the title of this book, and that is probably one of the reasons that I added it to my to-read list. That, and the small matter of it costing me absolutely nothing to read.

Without totally ruining the plot, this book is centered around a young woman called Josephine, and we learn about her passion of riding a bike, that she only really discovers accidentally. This is set in a time, when it was scand
Elizabeth Camden
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful novel! I feel like I've just struck gold....a new-to-me author who has a huge backlist I can plow through. Petra Durst-Benning writes the kind of novels I love... a vibrant historical setting, intelligent leading women, daring storylines, and lots of heart. Oh, and a happy ending. I loved it! I also loved learning about late 19th century Germany. Makes me want to visit! ...more
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
proto-feminism and strong young women in Germany and Berlin (and other countries as the book goes on in the 1880's and 1890's; very interesting fresco of a time and society and strong characters kept me going but the two main drawbacks - flat prose (or maybe flat translation) that generally lacks excitement and the page turning qualities of the best in this quite popular and crowded subgenre and a fairly predictable plot - kept me from fully enjoying this one especially compared with other recen ...more
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
From start to finish, I was completely enthralled with these women, specifically Josephine the main character. Their confidence and relentlessness is influential and stirs emotions of all kinds. Heartbreak comes to each in it's own form and some more harsh than others, her it only strengthens them individually. Friendships that last through all the trials and a sweet love story make this book a must read. It is written in a way that keeps you interested and invested in all the characters, I coul ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book was excruciatingly dull and was only made worse by horrible audio narration. The story takes place in Berlin, but only a few people have thick German accents, while the main characters sound more American than I do. Odd anachronisms and two-dimensional characters didn't help the slow plot along either. ...more
Pat Roberts
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Three stars is too much, two not quite enough. While the premise of the book is interesting, that is, women wanting to ride bicycles at the turn of the century in Germany, the writing style is just plain corny and simplistic. The story morphed into a romance, and I happen to hate romance novels of any sort.
Heartbreak to healing to triumph

I loved this book from the moment I started it. I was immediately invest in Josephine's life. Her heartbreak, challenges, misunderstandings and the way she learned from them is profound. I love a story of triumph and of course a love story makes it all worth it!
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A really good piece of historical fiction...told not from the point of any great historical happening, but from the point of the gentle but firm changes women caused for themselves in 1890's Germany. I love that this book is to be part of a Trilogy.....with the second book being published in Germany later this year...hopefully translated by early next year! ...more
Jeanette Sander
I loved the idea of this book, a woman seeking freedom and Independence during a time when that was just not an option. I had never considered how empowering and controversial a bicycle was and the impact it's invention and availability were on society. After a few chapters the writing began to feel rushed and I was annoyed by having to read over and over about her wanting to ride a bike. ...more
Feb 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
While the World is Still Asleep by Petra Durst-Benning is the first book in The Century Trilogy. Josephine “Jo” is telling her story. We start out with her in an accident and in trouble with the law (I know. It makes no sense.) Jo ends up in prison for 3 and a half years. Jo then goes back to tell us about the death of her brother, Freddie?? He was twelve years old and fascinated with fire. One Sunday Jo was ordered to watch him while her parents went off for the day to visit relatives. Jo watch ...more
Set in the late 1800s in Germany, While the World is Still Asleep is a historical fiction featuring Josephine and her friends as they become enamored with a new invention - the bicycle. German society is appalled by the idea of women's cycling, whether for sport, transport or leisure, with doctors even going so far as to claim that cycling can impact women's health negatively (...of course, they also claim no such detriment befalls a man who wishes to ride a bicycle *eternal side-eye*). Despite ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
2016 434 pages

the title refers to the women of Berlin-per and during war-riding bicycles in the early morning as only men were allowed to ride bikes during the day time.

I liked this book because it kept my interest. I had a few out loud laughs as the women figured out how to fix their skirt so they would not get caught in the bike chain. So the story follows 4 girls as become young ladies, learn how to secretly ride bikes in dad's back yard and eventually develop a Woman Bicycling Club that met
Jan 13, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't like giving bad reviews to books (though some are so sloppily written and full of plot holes they deserve them) in cases like this, where it's about my tastes and not the writing.
I just found this book incredibly dull.
I struggled to three quarters of the way through and then gave I wasn't retaining any of it.
It may well be a fantastic read to others,just not for me.
Dec 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed learning about the advent of cycling in Germany!
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather a different read for me, but I quite liked it. Well done and interesting period in Germany's history. ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was the first time I’d read a book with cycling as its main theme, and I found it both interesting and reasonably entertaining. Especially as it’s about women and cycling in 1890s Germany, an unusual and original subject and one that kept me engaged. Three young women friends each become involved in this new activity and fight prejudice and disapproval to be allowed to partake. There are, of course, difficulties along the way to be overcome, and there is of course a fair amount of romance t ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I simply could not stop reading this book! Each page was as delightful as the last, the story so free flowing and free spirited, it had me at the edge of my seat, quivering with a sense of adventure.

The theme of the book is very subtle, with women cycling and being ridiculed for it. Makes you see the world from the point of view of the deprived. The fairer sex has come a long way since the 1890s, but the book shows that these prejudices have to be overcome together, in unity. The characters are
It's all about the bike!!! Yes, this is the theme of this first book in this trilogy. I enjoyed the other books written by this author but this one was just an OK audible for me. A lot of the "accents" they used were ridiculous and I wasn't able to understand some of it. Why they try to put these fake accents in an audible, I will never understand. If you can't find a true German accent, or any other accent, then leave it out!
Josephine is a likeable character but she loves to ride a bike and in
Dr. Been
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While reading this book, I felt like being on a bike all the time. The images of 19th century Berlin are so well presented. I have been to the beautiful Berlin once, but this depiction of the city made me feel like living there for long.

This book has all the essentials of an HF book. Anyone who loves bikes and traveling, should read this story. So well written, and I must say well translated, for me. It tells you that there is more to German history than just war stories.
It is a story of pass
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. It follows three young women, friends from childhood, as they come of age in Berlin in the late 1800s. The book focuses on one woman in particular (presumably the other two books in the series will feature the other two in more detail). Setting her story in the years after the invention of the bicycle, Durst-Benning covers issues relating to social class, patriarchy and feminism. I particularly appreciated her notes in the back of the book det ...more
Katherine Leinbach
While the World is Asleep is a book one might enjoy over a relaxing weekend. Written in German and translated to English, it's about some German girls around the late 1800's who discover a passion for newfangled bicycles when it was not socially acceptable for women to ride bicycles. Thought provoking on the social norms of women and how far things have come over the past 100 plus years. Also eye opening on the early days of bicycles. Not in your face feminism, just women who want to ride a bike ...more
Amber Miller
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entertained beginning to end

This is the 2nd series I've read from this author. Not disappointed at all. Inspiring and empowering. Crossing lines of gender and social class.
"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.

Jo 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 bl
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent historical fiction. Loved the concept and enjoyed watching the characters grow. It started off a bit slow, but once it got going, I could not put it down.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
God. I just love this author. I really enjoyed her previous trilogy (The Glassblower Trilogy) and I liked the beginning of this new series even more. I look forward to reading the next 2 books. This book follows the story of three girls and it is a coming of age story that revolves around bicycles, the twists and turns of life, and the bonds of friendship. I loved this book, it is going to be one of those books that I never tire of reading. It also managed to make me miss riding a bicycle! I wan ...more
Angela Richter
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific Author

I really liked Petra's books on glass blowing so thought I'd try " While the World is Still Asleep". Great.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
As an audio read I found this story filled with moments where cheering on the young and slightly older females was a natural element. Throughout the main character's life there was reason to cheer her on and wish you too could provide much needed advice. The story's plot follows the life circumstances of a poor young female heroine who develops into a strong woman who leads her little corner of the world into a revolution of realization - what a woman can do when no one is looking!
Andi Towner
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't wait for the next adventure

Wonderful creation of the introduction of bicycles into the world. Heroine Josephine proves to be the strong, courageous woman Durst-Benning is known for.
Erika Boncz
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Since I am not a cycling enthusiast this book didn't really grab me. When I could read past that and into the friendships and trials of women in the 1890's that is when I liked the book better. I will see if I pick up the second one ...more
Brenda G
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book starts out a little slow, it develops into a powerful visit to a time when women had few rights. It shares four young ladys' lives as they navigate the often frustrating cultural mores. This is a book about championing for women's rights without coming off as preachy. The book also reminds us to dream and to take the steps necessary to see that the dream comes true. ...more
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