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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar: A…
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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Suzanne Joinson

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Member:whidbeysue
Title:A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar: A Novel
Authors:Suzanne Joinson
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Eva's journey as a missionary on the Silk Road circa 1920 unearths bewildering cultures, perilous terrain, and disturbing blasphemy; unravels the destiny of Frieda in present day London. ( )
  paperdust | Feb 21, 2017 |
I feel like a need to make a shelf for "historical novels about women travelling" as it is a sort of favorite of mine. This was an intriguing read. The novel has two parallel threads, one set in 1923 in Asia and the other in contemporary London. The first plot is implied by the title. Evangeline English is travelling with her sister Lizzie and another missionary, the domineering Millicent to establish a mission somewhere along the Great Silk Road. Evangeline, ironically (due to her name), is actually non-religious and has come on the mission to satisfy her desire for travel and adventure. The book's title is also the title of the travel narrative she hopes to create from her adventures. The second plot is that of Frieda, whose job takes her frequently abroad, but who feels her connections with outside cultures is based on false pretenses, much like her lackluster affair with a married man. Frieda's life changes, however, when she receives word that she must clean out the flat of a mysterious woman, Irene Guy, an apparent relative of whom she has never heard. Nearly at the same time she finds a homeless Yemeni immigrant, Tayeb, sleeping in the corridor outside her apartment and loans him a pillow and blanket. Suddenly, Frieda is caught up in an intriguing web of familial and cultural connections that pull her out of her sterile connection with "global culture" and into the complex world of real human life and relations.

I was pulled in by the stories of Evangeline, Frieda and Tayeb, intrigued by the stories themselves and also by the way that the crosscurrents of history flow through our individual lives in ways we can only dimly comprehend. The writing is vivid and well-paced, not rushed but never dragging. The settings are intriguing in themselves and beautifully rendered and the plotlines kept my interest. On the surface, a fairly quick and simple read, but touching on deeper ideas of global society and history. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
Flew through this novel and thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed the parallel (then intersecting) stories set in contemporary London and colonial-era Kashgar (though surprisingly little is said about the eponymous bicycle).

That said, there is plenty to nitpick from a historical perspective. A woman such as Eva, masquerading as one of the missionary faithful in order to seek a life adventure of the sort not permitted in England to a lady of her class, would almost certainly have been found out by the probing questions of the China Inland Mission's recruitment committee (or indeed that of any of the major missionary societies). ( )
  Panopticon2 | Aug 26, 2016 |
Mixed feelings. I listened to this on CD in the car during a fairly long trip and it served me well in that capacity. I wanted to like it more than I did. It certainly provided interesting insights into what life would have been like in an extremely remote part of what is now China in the early 20th century for a small group of female European missionaries, but while it offered lots of the stress--which could have appeared in any high pressure situation--a lot of the day to day details of life were left out. Oddly enough there is almost nothing about the main character Eva actually riding her bicycle although there are a lot of notes for the guide she hopes to publish. She *says* riding her bicycle makes her feel free as if she is flying but she spends very little time actually riding her bike and is most often pushing it.

I was also a little put off that there are a handful of gay characters only two of whom are not predatory in nature.

The moral, at the risk of ruining the end, seems to be that if you stay put or follow your dream you will be equally miserable but at least if you stay put you will be safe and cause a lot less distress for those around you. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Mixed feelings. I listened to this on CD in the car during a fairly long trip and it served me well in that capacity. I wanted to like it more than I did. It certainly provided interesting insights into what life would have been like in an extremely remote part of what is now China in the early 20th century for a small group of female European missionaries, but while it offered lots of the stress--which could have appeared in any high pressure situation--a lot of the day to day details of life were left out. Oddly enough there is almost nothing about the main character Eva actually riding her bicycle although there are a lot of notes for the guide she hopes to publish. She *says* riding her bicycle makes her feel free as if she is flying but she spends very little time actually riding her bike and is most often pushing it.

I was also a little put off that there are a handful of gay characters only two of whom are not predatory in nature.

The moral, at the risk of ruining the end, seems to be that if you stay put or follow your dream you will be equally miserable but at least if you stay put you will be safe and cause a lot less distress for those around you. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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Book description
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.
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In 1923, devout Eva English and her not-so-religious sister Lizzie embark on a journey to be missionaries in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar.

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