A Lady Cyclist's Guide To Kashgar

Hardcover | July 16, 2013

bySuzanne Joinson

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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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From the Publisher

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 f...

Suzanne Joinson works in the literature department of the British Council, specializing in the Middle East, North Africa, and China, and she is the Arts Council-funded writer-in-residence at Shoreham Airport in the UK. Her personal blog can be found online at http://delicatelittlebirds.wordpress.com, and she tweets at @suzyjoinson. Vi...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.5 × 6.5 × 1.25 inPublished:July 16, 2013Publisher:Bloomsbury USALanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1608198111

ISBN - 13:9781608198115

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Lady Cyclists Guide to Kashgar I enjoyed this book very much. Interesting characters in two different time lines. Beautifully written.
Date published: 2015-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Magical Absolutely loved the two story lines and how the author has entwined them, how the time periods are so different but so beautifully presented. I shan't give any more away. A beautiful woman's read, tender somehow and unsettling too. Left me thinking.
Date published: 2014-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magical Maybe it's because Yemen is close to my heart and have an eccentric mother that I loved this book, but it was an absolute delight.
Date published: 2014-02-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved the Historical Aspect Reason for Reading: First off the title attracted me, then secondly I was both interested in the location and time period as these are favourite topics of mine. A very intriguing story that kept me hooked from start to finish. Told in two points of view. One the first hand account of the diary of Eva as she travels through 1920s China as a Christian missionary at a time when it is under major Muslim upheaval. Second, the third person narrative of a modern day English woman and Arab immigrant man who meet surreptitiously and together put their lives back on track. I found the historical element entirely gripping and engrossing. I always enjoy stories told through journal entries and found Joinson has used this device well; bringing the reader into not only the time period and the plot but also the geography of a land that no longer exists in today's world. I found her detail for description to be just the right amount to bring her world to life without getting bogged down in tedium. It is a hot, dry, thirsty world and was perfect for my time spent reading in the hot days of summer. I totally loved the characters in this part of the story as well, though not actually personally liking anyone except Eva, they were all very large as life personalities who brought a tale of religious riot to life. On the other hand I found the modern day story somewhat lacking. Taking up much less space than the other story, less time is given to developing the characters and I never felt connected to either Frieda or Tayeb. Their story seemed somewhat rushed, their connection not quite coherent and honestly Freida's story could have been told to greater depths without the Tayeb connection. This could have allowed the author to concentrate more on the mother/daughter theme which runs through the book but got lost and wasn't fulfilled to any great satisfaction. Freida and Tayeb's story was a pleasant diversion though and while I wasn't happy with how it connected to the past, it did connect, and proved itself in the end. For fans of epistolary fiction and historical fiction that concentrates on society and character rather than events.
Date published: 2012-08-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book! In 1923, Evangeline (Eva) English and her sister Lizzie are missionaries heading for China’s ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar. Lizzie is true to her missionary work, whereas Eva has her bicycle and is ready for adventure. In present day London, a young woman, Frieda, returns from a long trip to find a homeless man outside her door. Tayeb befriends Frieda and their journey begins.
Date published: 2012-05-23

Extra Content

Editorial Reviews

"The dramatic opening of Suzanne Joinson's thrilling and densely plotted first novel offers only a suggestion of the tumult to come.. Joinson, who has herself traveled widely on behalf of the British council, controls her narrative with skill: this is an impressive debut, its prose as lucid and deep as a mountain lake. Joinson also has a gift for evoking finely calibrated shifts of feeling. [she] illuminates her narrative with a playfulness that borders on the Gothic.. Through Frieda and Eva and their companions, Joinson explores notions of freedom, rootlessness, dislocation - any writer's reliable arsenal. But she makes these themes her own." -Sara Wheeler, The New York Times Book Review"At its heart, this exquisite novel celebrates the gifts that travel into far-off cultures confers: the displacements that throw into resilient relief our transcendent human connections." -National Geographic Traveler, Book of the Month"Charming." -O: The Oprah Magazine"Having traveled to Asia and the Middle East while working for the British council, Joinson knows what it's like to be a stranger far from home. And she's captured that feeling, often poetically, in her debut." -Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly"It takes less than a page for Suzanne Joinson to seize your attention.. there is so much here that is wonderful: the author's crisp, uncluttered story-telling, her graceful prose, and her ability to inhabit the character of a young woman in 1924 and a contemporary young woman with equal depth and ease. It is an impressive first novel." -Nan Goldberg, The Boston Globe"An astonishing epic - colonial-era travel combined with a modern meditation on where we belong and how we connect in the world - I could not put it down." -Helen Simonson, bestselling author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand"An interesting and unique juxtaposition of times and experiences that lingers and invites reflection." -Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post"Suzanne Joinson beckons readers with lush, evocative prose, yet never lets her gift for poetry interfere with a good story--or, to be more precise, two good stories.. Readers of A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar are certain to enjoy a literary journey that is not unlike the best bicycle ride--invigorating and challenging, with plenty of hills, vales and scenic views to keep one's blood pumping and spirits soaring." -Karen Cullotta, BookPage"Ms. Joinson layers her basic narrative with references to religious hypocrisy, cultural ignorance and sexual gamesmanship, throwing in for good measure Arabic ornithological mythology, bicycling tips for the novice female rider, and the dangers of cult worship. . . . Ms. Joinson succeeds in keeping us moving and takes us to places very far away before we reach the end of this immensely satisfying story." -Norman Powers, New York Journal of Books"A haunting, original, and beautifully written tale that conveys a sense of profound alienation and of other realities." -Paul Torday, bestselling author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"Present and past meld into an exploration of conflicting traditions in an impressive debut.. An intriguing window into the difficulties of those who attempt to reach across cultural barriers." -Publishers Weekly, boxed review"Beautifully written in language too taut, piercing, and smartly observed to be called lyrical, this atmospheric first novel immediately engages, nicely reminding us that odd twists of fate sometimes aren't that odd. Highly recommended." -Library Journal, starred review"This complex and involving historical novel examines the idea of home, the consequences of exile, the connection between mother and daughter, and the power dynamics of sexual relationships." -Booklist