Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson

Title: A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
Author: Suzanne Joinson
Format: ARC
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish Date: June 4, 2012
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like armchair traveling.
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From "It is 1923. Evangeline (Eva) English and her sister Lizzie are missionaries heading for the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar. Though Lizzie is on fire with her religious calling, Eva’s motives are not quite as noble, but with her green bicycle and a commission from a publisher to write A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, she is ready for adventure.
In present day London, a young woman, Frieda, returns from a long trip abroad to find a man sleeping outside her front door. She gives him a blanket and a pillow, and in the morning finds the bedding neatly folded and an exquisite drawing of a bird with a long feathery tail, some delicate Arabic writing, and a boat made out of a flock of seagulls on her wall. Tayeb, in flight from his Yemeni homeland, befriends Frieda and, when she learns she has inherited the contents of an apartment belonging to a dead woman she has never heard of, they embark on an unexpected journey together.

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar explores the fault lines that appear when traditions from different parts of an increasingly globalized world crash into one other. Beautifully written, and peopled by a cast of unforgettable characters, the novel interweaves the stories of Frieda and Eva, gradually revealing the links between them and the ways in which they each challenge and negotiate the restrictions of their societies as they make their hard-won way toward home. A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar marks the debut of a wonderfully talented new writer."

My Two Cents:

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is a book told in two times. On one hand, you have sisters, Lizzie and Eva, as missionaries whose mission has gone awry. On the other, you have Frieda in present day London. There is, of course, a connection between the two stories but it doesn't come together until the end.

There were a lot of things that I liked about the book. First, I really liked the setting, especially in the historical story. Kashgar is a very old city on the Silk Road. You get a great picture of what it looks like and what the people in the book are like. You don't get as much of a sense of what Frieda's London is about.

There are also a couple different themes. This first is religion. Lizzie and Eva are missionaries. Lizzie is incredibly religious. Eva is much more interested in writing a bicycle guide for Kashgar. I really wish that the author explained a little bit more about Lizzie and Millicent's (the leader of the mission)hypocrisy. There is so much material there and I definitely think that it could make things a little bit stronger.

I did like the connection between the two stories but you could definitely see what the ending was. I wish that we would have learned a little more about Frieda's family. I thought the connections could have had more detail.

I liked this book but there were so many places where I think it would have been nice to have a little more.



  1. I'd like this one. It ticks all my boxes!

  2. I have been thinking about reading this one, thanks for the review. Seeing you gave it just a three makes me think I can hold off on it for now.


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