Lois Pryce's Revolutionary Ride

Revolutionary Ride review by #travelbookclub

“I love it when a book grabs you from the first page,” I wrote on Twitter shortly after starting Lois Pryce’s Revolutionary Ride. And Lois’ explanation about her decision to travel to Iran in 2013, based on a note left on her motorbike by a stranger, certainly falls into that category. This was a woman who’s journey I wanted to follow!

Like many readers I guess, I know very little about Iran, save what I read in the news. Those stories generally focuses on the negative aspects of the country: nuclear weapons, repressive regimes and the restrictions women face.

But I had no idea about the other side of Iran, which Revolutionary Ride brought sharply into focus.

Brilliant observation

What I really liked about this book is Lois’s honesty. She talks candidly about her nervousness about visiting Iran. However, her preconceptions are instantly expelled as she begins her travels.
Her inquisitive nature and brilliant observation instantly allows you to experience the warmth and hospitality of the Iranian people.
We read Revolutionary Ride for #travelbookclub (a book club I run on Twitter). During our discussion about the book, we talked about the biggest surprises we discovered about Iran while reading it.
What I loved about it is that Lois herself is constantly trying to get her head around the many contradictions in day-to-day life in Iran. The fact that there are so many sanctions, but people still manage to get the things they need or want. The fact that women have far fewer rights then men, but are still highly intelligent, fashionable and, surprisingly, seemingly unbitter about their lot.
Revolutionary Ride review

Exploring Iran through Lois Pryce’s Revolutionary Ride

Solo travel

Throughout the book Lois weaves the complicated history of the country, with its ruling powers, coups and regimes. Alongside this she tells the story of adventurer Freya Stark who travelled through Iran in 1930. She also sounded like a brave and unstoppable force.
Another of the questions we discussed in #travelbookclub was Lois’ mode of transport and whether completing the 3,000 mile journey on a motorbike made a difference to her experience. Personally I felt as though it did, as it made her so much more visible as a solo female traveller. As a result, she had several encounters, ranging from the charming to the quite frankly terrifying.
Revolutionary Ride takes the reader through the real Iran, from the jam-packed, manic, roads of Tehran to the isolated mountain passes of Alborz.
As I started writing my Revolutionary Ride review, I realised that it was the beauty of the country which was one of the aspects of the book that really stood out for me.

A love letter to Iran

Throughout Revolutionary Ride Lois’s love for Iran grows. She is welcomed with open arms – and never-ending plates of food! – by virtually everyone she meets. Her understanding of the people and their country grows with each character she is introduced to.
However Lois doesn’t shy away from the frightening moments of her trip. She openly discusses her vulnerability as a woman alone on the road. Another question we considered in #travelbookclub was whether this journey would have been different had it been completed by a man. My feelings were that Lois was more exposed as a woman and was consequently treated differently. However, conversely, her sex is also what enabled her to have such honest interactions with people, particularly other women.
I finished reading Revolutionary Ride many weeks ago, but I still think about it regularly. This is a book to read if you want your preconceptions of a place to be tried and tested. Hopefully Habib, the Iranian note-leaver who created the catalyst for this journey, would be proud.
If you enjoyed my Revolutionary Ride review and you’d like to buy the book, you can purchase it from Lois’ own website here, from your local bookshop via Hive or from Amazon here.