The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love
By Per J Andersson, and and, Anna Holmwood
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A gorgeously warm and open hearted book, the author writes honestly and unsentimentally about his harsh life as a member of the untouchable caste in India yet shows no sign of self pity. He describes what was and how he dealt with it and he does indeed, eventually, set off on a bicycle to Europe but the book is much wider than that. It was a great one for our book group with members who are from India, or are travellers or cyclists or a combination, as well as some who are none of the above (there are 20 of us). It meant we had views from many different perspectives which led to wide ranging and interesting discussion.Everybody who read the book thoroughly enjoyed it and said they'll recommend it to others. Many thanks.
The cover first...the Hunstanworth Village Hall Book Group were all looking forward to reading this novel as the cover is so colourful and evocative of warmer climes, spices and exotic animals. Inside the book we liked the addition of photographs of PK and his family, and those of PK and Lotta.
However, it would be fair to say that we all found the title a little misleading as we'd expected the main part of the story to be about PK's journey from India, to Sweden, but instead found the journey took up just under one third of the story. And of the journey a large chunk was made by train so again felt misled by 'cycled' in the title
We found the writing about the caste system very informative, and learned a lot about the four castes and their subdivisions.
Whilst everyone enjoyed this book, and some liked it very much, we all felt that we would have liked to hear something from Lotta (PK's love interest).
From the experiences of those who have visited India this story seemed to present a 'sanitised' India with little mention of the real poverty affecting the masses.
The group felt in general that the sections where PK reminisced about his youth were the most enjoyable and we would have liked more of these stories.
I had this book as a giveaway. I enjoyed this story a light read and an good holiday book and book group discussion read.
I liked hearing the difference PK found in the caste system of India. How his innocence in youth his shock and distress of being made to sit outside of his classroom. Irony allowed to have access to Education yet not touch or mix with the Teacher or his peers.
PK's father advised The British had no such qualms about dealing with untouchables ..
I found PK drifted a little with his art studies the lure of the city in stark contrast to country life.
I also thought more could have been written about his life in Sweden....
Generally our group enjoyed reading the book but like some of the other reviews we felt we would have liked to know more about his life in Sweden and also a bit more about his actual bike ride. The parts explaining the caste system were enlightening and the contrast between rural and city life was interesting .
We did wonder whether some of PK's own " voice" had been lost in translation
Our Reading Group enjoyed the book. Found it an easy read and very interesting about the Indian Caste system. PK's child as an"untouchable" was quite touching but obviously gave him many coping strategies for his journey to Europe. It was nice to hear how many people befriended him on his journey and that he eventually got back to Lotta. Having gone from living rough and often without for, PK now has two homes and travels regularly between Sweden and India. From being an untouchable, PK is now revered by fellow Indian citizens. His aim and wishes would be for a total overhaul of the caste system, from which he suffered terribly in his young life.
The members of the group who have finished this book enjoyed the beginning of the book, where the reader discovers the life PK has in rural India and his families experience of the caste system. We found the book easy to read and enjoyable, some members were put off as they thought it was a travel story, this part of the book was very brief and in places rushed. The book was enjoyable because of the background to Indian life but needed more on PK's adult life and his family life in Sweden.
The Man Who Cycled From India to Europe for Love
By Per J Andersson
This book was reviewed by our Reading Group and these are some comments from the discussion
• First two thirds of the book very interesting, but wanted to know more about his life in Sweden.
• Really interesting about how Indian culture/customs so different to European
• Felt the India part of the book was much more interesting than the rest of the book which felt “rushed”
• I enjoyed this book and have already recommended it.
Most of us enjoyed at least the first part of this book but it was generally felt that we all wanted to know more about his life in Sweden, that part of the book just seemed to gloss over his life there as the book raced to its end. More than half of us did not like the writing style, commenting that it was naive and simplistically written but we were much more positive about the translated excerpts from PK’s diary. They were felt to be very interesting in content and style and we wondered why PK didn’t write the book himself. We were uncertain as to whether the writer or the translator might have been responsible for our dissatisfaction with the writing style.
Reviewed by Penistone Library Readers’ Group
We were given 10 free copies by the publisher via The Reading Agency in return for an honest review.