Two young Polish women climb aboard a pair of economical Suzuki 125 VanVans and set off around mainland Europe to expose themselves to the people, landscape and elements of their own Continent. That’s the essence of this book. Everything starts with a dream, so why not?
Written in Polish, one person translated this book and another edited it, yet it’s clear none are native English speakers. The outcome is something which, perhaps understandably, doesn’t flow and means this isn’t an easy book to review, but for more reasons than that.
The small engine size means no major highways are used, which is good for the possibilities of exploration and adventure, but sadly a slavish adherence to the dictates of a GPS become unbelievably annoying for the reader. So too is the limited descriptive prose which meant that by the end I couldn’t identify a single place I wanted to ride to myself. Few landmarks are actually identified, and interestingly it took some time to realise what exactly was missing, but too often there’s just ‘a nice gorge’, ‘big river’ or ‘pretty town’.
As is so often the case, finding a travelling partner online doesn’t work and sure enough the relationship with ‘Caroline’ becomes very strained; the couple parting in southern France, barely halfway through the journey. On the one hand things improve for the reader, as the story is no longer peppered with reference to the psycho dynamic, but on the other this seems to equate with the part of the manuscript where the proof reader left the journey too. This wouldn’t matter as much if the sentence structure wasn’t as clunky, or the descriptive prose as unengaging but with all three in concert I found myself working through the text to reach the end.
This doesn’t detract from the experience Weronika had, or the inspiration she provides for others who may want to use a small machine to just get out there and do it, but it does highlight the perils of translation.
Paperback, 192pp, 24pp colour images £14
Published by Weronika Kwapisz (2016)