A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson (pub date 5/22/12)
“The tide had moved up the shore at an incredible rate and with the sound of shingle dragging up, and drragging down, taking away with it all the lies she had been told as a child. . .”
Now that summer is fast approaching, this is a great book to read for the season. Full of exotic travel, interesting characters, and excellent writing, it’s a summer read with substance.
A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar is an inter-generational drama about love, loss, and betrayal, peppered with the intrigue and danger of the mysterious Far East. In 1923, sisters Evangeline and Lizzie are on a missionary journey in the Turkish city of Kashgar. Led by the matronly figure Millicent, the ladies are spreading the Gospel in a land mostly populated by Muslims, while Evangeline takes notes for the travel guide she is planning to write. When the trio finds themselves the subjects of a local dispute, their lives quickly change in ways they never thought possible.
The 1923 story alternates with a story set in present-day London. Freida Blakeman is a world-weary young woman about to embark on a journey of self-discovery. She is aided by Tayeb, a Yemeni national living illegally in England, whom she recently befriended. Slowly, the connection between the alternating plots is revealed.
This is a rich book, touched with sadness yet still full of hope. The story sucks you in from the first page, and is well written throughout. I enjoyed the contrast between the two stories, not just in the settings, but in the situation the characters find themselves in. Evangeline, Lizzie, and Millicent are three British women in a foreign and sometimes hostile Muslim land, while Tayeb is a Muslim in England, a land foreign and sometimes hostile to him. And while the three missionary women face mainly external conflict, Freida’s conflict is all within herself. It’s s story about finding your roots, and about making your own destiny.
This is a great book for anyone who enjoys literary fiction, or stories about women’s relationships. A nice debut novel from a promising new writer.