Read A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson Online


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,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....

Title : A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781608198115
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar Reviews

  • Maia B.
    2019-04-24 03:56

    Well, I tried.A little more than halfway into this, I realized that I wasn't enjoying it, I didn't care about any of the characters, and I was much better off completely forgetting about this book. So I took the bookmark out and dropped the book off for collection and delivery to the nearest secondhand bookstore and went to read something infinitely more interesting, more well-written, and better.The book starts out with a gory, disturbing scene of an eleven-year-old girl giving birth. There's a lot of blood and flesh and superfluous, and revolting, detail, the likes of which makes my skin crawl and my stomach feel oddly unsettled. I should have known then that I wasn't going to like this book.And, ten or twelve chapters later, I still wasn't liking it. I don't like Frieda - she's weird and dull and unpleasant. I don't like Tayeb - he's gritty and unfriendly and strange. And I loathe the characters of 1923 (actually they seem a lot more like Victorian women. Less 1923, more 1889).Eva = wet rag, no spunk, dull as dishwater.Lizzie = selfish, boring, obnoxious, underwritten.Millicent = well, I know we're not supposed to like her, but she's so unpleasant that I really have no inclination to read about her. She's not the kind of unpleasant character who's fun to read about. She's the kind of unpleasant who makes your teeth hurt and your fingernails itch.I also don't believe in the recent trend of pushing homosexuality on "repressed" people for no good reason. Admittedly, I didn't finish the book, but as far as I know the Millicent/Lizzie relationship had no bearing on much of anything, and in modern writers' attempts to make gay characters more accessible, which should be an excellent idea, they're actually making homosexuality even more of an oddity. But that's a very different argument and I'm not going to go into it here.This book had no spark. I was two hundred pages in and I DIDN'T CARE. I didn't care whether every single character died in a sandstorm because it made London seem cheap and vile and Kashgar uncivilized and evil.I didn't finish the book. I don't care I didn't finish - normally I have leftover guilt but not here. This just sucked.

  • Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
    2019-04-11 06:05

    This was a fantastic and complex read.The prose is beautifully written and this was a delight to read. The description were sumptuous, beautiful, lavish and luxurious and I found myself instantly transported to Kashgar.This book switched between two time periods and various characters, but for once I actually enjoyed the changes of perspective. It really really worked and despite it usually being something that puts me off reading a book instead it drew me in further.The pace is subtle and I didn't realise how very much the whole book had changed between the first page and the last. Suzanne Joinson's writing is simply AMAZING. You journey with the characters, feel as they feel.I had a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach as I finished this book, as I am sure Evangeline did at the end of her journey. What happens between the pages is haunting and shocking, yet somehow delicate and quite lovely.This is definitely one of those books which leaves you with a "what next" feeling.What happens now? Where do the characters go from here? Where to I go from here?I received a copy of this for free via Goodreads First Reads.

  • Becca
    2019-04-12 00:59

    I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. This is another in the growing trend of novels that blend a modern and historical storyline. It can be an interesting concept, contrasting and comparing our times and issues with those past. In this case, I spent the whole novel questioning what the link actually was. Having finished it, I don't see how either Frieda's story in modern London or Eva's in 1920s Kashgar actually complemented or added any weight to each other. Yes, they are both bold independent women (and in many ways Eva is a reflection of our times rather than her own). Yes, there was a tenuous link 'revealed' at the end, but the two stories are essentially unrelated. I wasn't quite sure whether the "Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar" came into the story. There was little to no cycling, some random quotes that seemed to bear no relation to the following chapters and actually not much of a journey or development of character. Perhaps it was just a symbol of the pioneering independent spirited women in the story but it wasn't really developed as such. I was disappointed that I didn't really learn much about Kashgar. One of the strengths from previous historical/travel novels I've read in the past is that they totally immerse you in a different culture and setting, evoking how people live in foreign lands. This novel could have been set anywhere remote visited by missionaries at the turn of the century.In fairness, I felt this novel was quite well-written with some beautiful descriptions and paragraphs, and raised some interesting issues. Eva and her companions' lives as female missionaries in lands where they were not at all wanted is a fraught and dangerous one, and each comes to her calling with very different agendas and motivations, something I've always found fascinating and have previously studied. Tayeb was the most interesting character to me - I wanted to know more about his life as an illegal immigrant and his background in Yemen but the story was just touched on and not at all fleshed out. This is true of many of the characters and plotlines in this novel: lots of threads contained with a novel that wasn't really expansive enough to give them much justice.

  • Jeannie Mancini
    2019-04-05 01:59

    As an Amazon Vine reviewer I try not to read any other reviews before reading a book, as to not cloud my own reading experience or judgement. But, as I was approaching this novel's three quarter mark I just had to stop and check out the other reviews. I had gotten to the point where I was leaning towards calling it quits and tossing it in the pile to be taken the used bookstore for trade in credit. Although I give the author credit and two stars just for the story concept alone, which is a creative one, I felt the book was simply lacking in substance and story.The story is told by two characters that switch from the present to the past. At the point where I had to throw in the towel, I still had not seen a connection linking the stories together. The novel moves at a snail's pace, moving so slow it almost doesn't move at all. I am not a reader who needs a lot of action or drama to keep my attention but this narrative was painfully boring. Joinson's character development is very lame, neither the couple in the now, or the three sisters in the past, had any depth to their personalities enough for the reader to either like them or dislike them. Their characters were flat and lifeless and I found myself simply not caring what happened to any of them.In the present we have a young Yemeni man, basically homeless, who finds himself on the doorstep of a young woman who has recently inherited a house from a mysterious woman she never heard of. In the past we have three British sisters acting as missionaries in the Middle East in the 1800's, causing local unrest and trouble when their arrival is unwelcome. I found the unique personalities and actions of these three sisters highly unlikely for the era they lived in and for the places they visited.The title of this novel is A Lady's Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar. Even though the key sister of the story that takes place in the past, (the actual narrator for that section of the book), is writing a cyclist's guide of her travels that she hopes will be published at their journey's end, I came across no cycling happening at all even after reading three quarters of the book. I guess it was not "all about the bike". Certainly with this novel, I did not get what I expected. It was poorly written, lacked a little meat to flavor the story, had lifeless characters one couldn't relate to, and to boot had so many grammatical errors and poor sentence structure that I ended up giving up telling myself that there were hundreds of other books in my stacks to get to instead of wasting anymore time on this one I was not enjoying. Sorry folks, I give any author credit for trying, but this was strongly lacking in the key ingredients that make a novel excellent.

  • Ricki Treleaven
    2019-03-27 05:57

    This week I read A Lady Cyclists's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson. This is Joinson's first novel, and I will definitely read more of her books in the future. The book contains two stories that are about 100 years apart. First there is Evangeline, a young lady who accompanies her sister, Elizabeth, on a mission trip to Kashgar in Western China during the 1920s. Kashgar is one of the most remote cities in the world, so I thought the premise of a lady actually selling the idea for a lady cyclist's guide to Kashgar to a publisher as highly unlikely. Evangeline fools the mission board that she wants to travel to China as a missionary, but really she is only out to have an adventure with her sister while writing the guidebook. Elizabeth and Evangeline's mission leader to is Millicent, a middle-aged missionary who is manipulative and twisted. I truly hated this character, and I found her a bit far-fetched. I wish Joinson had balanced this hateful character with a stronger missionary who was committed to serving the China Inland Mission and God because when I think of Chinese missionaries, I immediately think of one of my heroes, Lottie Moon. When the ladies first arrive, a young girl is giving birth right outside the gates of Kashgar. Millicent helps the girl deliver and hands the baby to Evangeline. The mother dies, and the three ladies are soon put under house arrest for murder. They are placed in a hotel run by a Mohammed and his family, and soon cultures and religions clash.In present-day London, Frieda peeks out her door and finds a Middle-Eastern man sitting in the hallway outside her apartment. She gives him a blanket and pillow, and the next morning she finds lovely feathers and Arabic words that have been drawn on the hallway wall. Tayeb, the artist, befriends Frieda and helps her solve a mystery: An elderly aunt unknown to Frieda has left her belongings to Frieda. While clearing out the aunt's home, Frieda discovers a journal and a copy of A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar. Both stories eventually come together as the identity of the mysterious aunt is revealed. As much as I hated Millicent, I think I preferred the story in the past because I was unsatisfied with Frieda and Tayeb's ending. I thought it was too ambiguous, and I would have appreciated more closure. I must say that my timing in reading this book couldn't have been better based on what has been happening in the Arab world this week. Eastern and Western philosophies, religions, and culture clash in this novel in both Evangeline and Frieda's worlds.

  • Roxanne
    2019-04-14 04:52

    I was very impressed with Suzanne Joinson's debut novel. I was drawn to this book because looking at the cover I could not figure out how the lady in the beautiful purple dress was going to ride her bike in what looked like some pretty rugged terrain.This dual storyline was very well done. My preference would have been for the entire book to be about Eva, but the author did a very good job of keeping present day Frieda in contention with Eva.I did a comprehensive review of the map at the front of the book and I was expecting to do a lot of traveling throughout the story, but that was not the case. I had to look up several words in my dictionary. I doubt I will ever be using them in my conversations, however, I felt that I took away more from this book than just reading a wonderful story. I felt educated in matters that were foreign to me. I was reminded of what true adventure must feel like. Always on the cliff waiting to fall off or be pushed off.This book does have a serious nature to it. Social conditions for women continue to change over time. I realized that money has always been helpful in times of great need. Monetary bribes seem to be the universal language wherever you go. I was impressed with the lavish detail and vivid imagery presented by the author with respect to food and geography. I'm not sure about the authenticity of some of the food that was available to Eva and her traveling companions, but it did leave me with rich images that lingered long after I read the words on the pages.I was a little disappointed with the final several chapters. I think it was the fact that I didn't want Eva's story to end, but I did want Freida's story to be over with. And to be honest, I really didn't even care about how the two woman were historically linked.I look forward to reading Suzanne Joinson's next book. P.S. If I was going to inherit property from somebody, I sure would have been a lot more excited than Freida was.

  • Charly
    2019-04-15 04:20

    This was a kind of funky piece which I enjoyed....I think. It is a "non-linear" story line with the mystery identity of a woman the present character tries to sort out, and a back story told in the past. The past deals with the adventures of a missionary party that falls out with the Muslim group controlling the area they hope to convert. The current comes full circle as a Muslim helps decode the mystery.

  • Felice
    2019-04-21 06:02

    Another debut novel, another winner. It seems like 2012 has been a good year for first timers. What do you think? The latest in this series of good reads for me is A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson. The action in A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar is set in 1923 and involves sisters Eva and Lizzie. They are on their way to do mission work in the Chinese governed, Muslim city of Kashgar. Lizzie despite her frailness is the zealot on this trip although she does have other passions. Eva, who has brought along her prized bicycle, is looking for adventure and a possible book contract for a travel guide. The third wheel on this journey is Millicent Frost. She is the expert, the one who is going to see them to Silk Road city of Kashgar.There is also a contemporary side to the novel. Joinson has divided the action between the missionaries and the story of Frieda in present day London. ---Let’s take a full stop here for a moment. When have you ever read a novel that toggles between a historical setting and a contemporary one where the author manages to keep them both of equal interest? Does the word never come to mind? There must have been at least one or two books over the years that I have read that used that device and the Miss Modern Times part has been equal to the historical portion but I cannot for the life of me think of them.Frieda is a professional expert on Islamic youth and little else. She is questioning her relationship with a married man, helping a homeless filmmaker get on his feet and inheriting things from some mysterious person she seems to have no connection with. Taybo is the homeless man. He is a refugee from Yemen whose visa has expired. The locales, the period details and the politics in Lady Cyclist’s are all layered in with a casual simplicity that creeps up on you. No beating you over the head with research here. (Yipee!) The excellent characterizations in Lady Cyclist’s are successful fed by these details and the plot. Eva, Lizzie, Millicent and Frieda are all carefully drawn. Their very interesting quirks and their search for themselves all come about naturally but don’t assume that equates to a See Dick and Jane kind of obviousness. Joinson uses her talent to let you bring all of these particulars together and discover for yourself the depths of the idividuals and the relationships. Can Frieda’s search for the reasons behind an unknown benefactor’s gift, the wonderfully interesting inventory of the inheritance, her relationship with Taybo and her everyday living problems really compete with the story of three white women who take off in 1923 searching for all different freedoms in an unstable country? The answer is a surprising yes. Hats off to Joinson for pulling that off! In The Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar she has married skillful writing with an emotionally and historically rich story about independence, abandonment and love.

  • Grace
    2019-04-18 06:20

    Author: Suzanne Joinson (pub date June 4) (n)Title: A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to KashgarDescription: Eva and her sister are new missionaries to Kashgar, supervised by the nearly fanatical Millicent. Their very first act gets them put under house arrest and awaiting trial on murder charges. Meanwhile, Millicent’s not-so-subtle methods seem to be stirring up animosity among the natives. Running parallel to this story is the modern-day story of Frieda and her new friend Tayeb, an illegal immigrant. Frieda inherits the contents of a flat belonging to someone she has never heard of, and has a week to dispose of them before the housing authority comes in to clear things out.Review source: ARC from netgalleyPlot: Both plots, the historical and the contemporary, kept my interest. Eva is writing The Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar; she has brought her bicycle with her on the missionary trip. Along with her pointers on cycling, she uses her notebook as a diary to record the events taking place in this country where they are nearly the only foreigners. Characters: Both of the main female characters, Frieda and Eva, are well-drawn and likeable. The supporting characters are also interesting and believable.Writing style: It can be tricky to write parallel stories; the author has to make each story interesting in its own right, and they have to move at about the same pace. From the beginning I was more interested in the historical portion of the novel, probably because it was so alien to my own experience. Aside from this bit of unevenness, though, I enjoyed the writing style.Audience: I’d place this novel squarely between chick lit and literary fiction. I think both groups of readers would enjoy it; it would make a good book group read as well.Wrap-up: The book’s running theme of religious belief and what it means to the individual as well as to the community was very well done and thought-provoking. I did find the ending to be not as strong as the rest of the book, though. 3.5/5*

  • Rebecca
    2019-04-07 02:10

    Wow. Not sure whether it was the TERRIBLE, ATROCIOUS, WHAT-THE-HELL-WERE-THEY-THINKING reader or the pretty much random plot that got to me worse. . . but listening to this book became an effort of will. I finished it this evening with a sigh of relief, decided to pan it (I had honestly been thinking quite hard about whether it was good and I had just lost patience or was being short-sighted), and then cracked up when reading the review below this one, which clearly agrees with me about the reader. So I'll start there: Sussssannnnn Duerdannnnnnn. The readah. Has an affffffffffffffffected. Way of speakinggggggggggggggg. She is whispery and pretentious, over enunciating virtually everything--until she reads a man's voice in the modern part of the story and suddenly she is loud and emphatic. WEIRD. She should never be employed as a reader again. EVER. Check out a sample if you don't believe me. Luckily, this was a library download/mp3 book, so I am not stuck having wasted $20 or so. The story: well, it seems like it was an attempt to ride the tide of "spunky ladies who break stereotypes" stories, blended with a "blending time periods" story. . . but it is odd, unfinished, and confusing. There seems to be a big theme of "hey! homosexuality!" and then a modern theme of unhappy love, unfinished business, bad parents, smoking, and birds. No joke: the heroine inherits an OWL. Does anything happen with it? Nope. It escapes, then returns, eats, hoots, nearly gets released, and then moves to the sea with the heroine. Do we know why it's there? Um. No. Oh, there's also a bad skin motif, and a mucous motif (no joke. Long descrip. of a bad mother coughing mucous onto her hand and not having anything to wipe it off with.). So. Spare yourself. Don't listen to this.

  • Kerry Hennigan
    2019-04-15 03:22

    “A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar” sounded like just the kind of historical traveller’s tale I love. One of those magical “stranger in a strange land” adventures of an intrepid Edwardian woman venturing where foreigners aren’t welcomed and foreign women are seldom, if ever seen.However, Suzanne Joinson’s novel turns out to be quite different from these expectations. Most of the historical action takes place while the narrator, her sister and their friend Millicent are under house arrest because of their missionary activities. Their journey along the Silk Road has brought them to Kashgar in Eastern Turkestan. It is 1923, and Evangeline English finds herself becoming a surrogate mother to a newborn girl child. It is because of the baby’s mother, and because of Millicent’s aggressive proselytising, that they are in their current predicament.Meanwhile, in twenty-first century London, Frieda Blakeman encounters a homeless artist from Yemen outside the door of her flat. Shortly afterwards she discovers she has inherited the contents of the home of the late Irene Guy – apparently a relative of whom she knows nothing. Together she the Yemeni refugee, Tayeb, explore the contents of Irene Guy’s home, trying to find out who she is and how she is related to Frieda.All this sounds intriguing, and it is, but it is a novel that lacks the necessary spark to make it really memorable. At times I found myself becoming impatient for something to happen, particularly to Evangeline and her companions, whose narrative is by far the most interesting part of the book.But, I have to hand it to Ms Joinson – her novel, while not being what I expected, was also rather unpredictable in some of its revelations; always a nice surprise for the reader.

  • Christine
    2019-04-13 22:03

    I quite liked this book but it was not at all what I was expecting from the title and the back cover. I was expecting something quite light and this got dark pretty quickly both in the historical portion and the modern part of the book. There are so many things that are lightly touched on here, religion, sexuality, colonialism, honour killings, missionaries, etc...Very little about any cycling, though she did cart the bicycle half way round the world :-)

  • Lindsay
    2019-04-03 21:55

    I was loving this book and would have given it 4 1/2 stars all the way up until the end. The story followed two women during two different time periods: Evangeline in the 1920's and Freida in present day. There was also a story arc on Tayeb, and that wove in seamlessly with Freida's story. I spent the first 3/4 of the novel trying to figure out how the two main stories would intersect and loved that. The first 3/4 of the novel had great details and imagery. Evangeline is a missionary in the early 1920's, and had traveled to Kashgar with her sister, Elizabeth, and another missionary woman, Millicent. Eva, as she's often called, was not there so much for the missionary work, rather was there to keep watch over her sister. Even though this story arc is only from Eva's point of view, I really got a sense of each of the characters, the bad and the good, and, in Millicent's case, the bad and the not so awful.Freida's story is slightly less developed, but equally as interesting. She's a foreign correspondent in present-day London who can't seem to stay in one place. She's involved with a man she shouldn't be involved with and has no idea what to do next. When she comes back from somewhere in the middle east, she has a letter saying that an Irene Guy has passed away and she is listed as the next of kin and needs to empty out her apartment. She has no idea who this woman is or how they are related. She calls her father, who is equally stumped. She decides that she must contact her mother, who she hasn't seen since she was a child and is now living on a commune. Enter Tayeb. He is an illegal immigrant from Yemen, who cannot go home again. He gets caught up in something unpleasant, and then is on the run so he is not deported. This is when his path intersects with Freida's. The story between Freida and Tayeb is interesting. Together, they set out to figure out Freida's relation (if there even is one) to Irene. Unfortunately, the book lost me at the end. I don't even know that it was the last 1/4 of the book, but rather the last two chapters that disappointed me. The end felt rushed, almost like the author couldn't exceed a certain page number. Maybe it's supposed to be left rather vague, but I wanted more details. There was a lot that was glossed over and a few questions left unanswered.Once I found out who Irene was, I wanted to know more about her. I felt her character was essentially missing from the book. I am so disappointed in the ending because I really did like this novel. Suzanne Joinson did a lot of research on early missionary work, and that fact is evident. I just wanted more.

  • Helen Bookwoods
    2019-04-03 22:15

    This novel has two timeframes/heroines. Frieda in present day London is a social researcher specialising in Islamic countries but this work leaves her feeling ambivalent. Unexpectedly, she is named as next of kin to an elderly women who has died, a woman she has never heard of. Meanwhile a hundred years or so earlier, Eva and her sister Lizzie embark, along with the domineering missionary, Millicent, on a trip to convert Muslims in Kashgar near Tajikistan (Eva is commissioned to write a book about her experiences, hence the 'Lady's Guide').The part of the novel set in Kashgar is the strongest with wonderful descriptions of the physical and cultural environment. After she unsuccessfully tries to save the life of a young girl giving birth to a child at the side of the road Millicent is accused of the girl's murder . While the authorities slowly get around to charging her they are all placed under house arrest. Eva volunteers to look after the baby of the dead girl and her growing love for the child provides something to cling on to when all else startes to fall apart. The progressively tense and strange relationship between Millicent and the two sisters is made even more precarious because of riots and an unstable political situation. Eva's subsequent desperate attempt to escape is thrillingly described.By contrast Frieda's relationship with illegal immigrant Tayeb, her piecing together of clues from the dead woman's belongings and her confrontation with her emotionally distant hippie mother, is not as enthralling, although Joinson's writing is always interesting. While there is a narrative device link between the two timeframes, I was at a loss to work out the point. I suppose the relationship between Frieda and Tayeb represents a positive reconciliation between the cultures compared to the gross cultural ignorance of the missionary approach of colonial times. This hopeful note acts as antidote to the more ambiguous resolution of the historical strand.

  • Deborah aka Reading Mom
    2019-04-13 23:06

    Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book through Goodreads First Reads.I was not required to post a review. The story-lines move alternately from 1923 with three main female characters who have traveled to the ancient Chinese Silk Road city of Kashgar to serve as missionaries, to modern-day London where we meet a young woman named Frieda who provides the second-story line . The blurb on the back of the advance copy states that A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar "is a major literary debut in the tradition of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--a wonderous richly conceived, irresistible debut novel that sweeps the reader away to a different world". I have read both the mentioned novels and was enchanted by them, so I had high expectations for this book as well. I truly wish I could say that I enjoyed it, but I found it to be boring, disjointed, and just plain difficult to read and connect with. None of the characters, with the possible exception of Eva, seemed likable or sympathetic and while there was a tie-in between the historical and modern story-lines that connected the two, there was nothing that captured my attention or imagination with either of the stories. The book just felt awkward and depressing. I started to abandon the book entirely, but finished it out in an attempt to be fair.

  • Maureen
    2019-04-05 00:04

    The story alternates between two time frames, 1923 , and present day London. It follows 3 female missionaries in Kashgar ( even though one of them is there under false pretences, having no real interest in saving souls). The descriptions are really well written, you can almost taste the food, feel the heat, smell the vast range of scents. The mission however turns into something of a nightmare ,but a collection of letters etc eventually turns up in modern day London. I don't know that there's much cycling involved, but I think the timeframes were brought together nicely, and I do feel as if I 've been on a bit of an adventure. This was a first reads giveaway.thank you!

  • Vicki
    2019-04-06 04:16

    Two fascinating tales are told side by side in this vivid debut novel, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar. One is an incredible story of sisters, two young Englishwomen who aspire to become missionaries in remote southeastern Turkey in 1923. The alternate chapters tell the story of a young professional woman in present day London. Her parents were "free spirits," who we would have called hippies if they were in the USA, and she rebelled by seeking out traditional schooling and a career in research.One of the sisters in the first tale, Elizabeth English, is committed to taking the gospel to the heathens in remote southeasternTurkey, but her sister Evangeline is just committed to getting out of England and not being left behind by her sister. She comes up with the excuse of writing the Guide as a ruse, and then, almost accidentally, meets a publisher who is willing to advance her money for her future manuscript, so she is more committed than ever to keeping a journal and attempting to write the book.In the second tale Frieda Blakeman has just returned from a work-related trip to gather research for a paper on The Youth of the Islamic World as a part of her government job. She hopes to spend the evening with her lover, a married man, but he fails to come to her apartment. Oddly, a possibly homeless man has followed her home from the train station. She winds up offering him a pillow and a blanket, as he is intending to spend the night in the hallway in front of her door. When she checks the next morning, he is gone but the blanket is folded neatly with the pillow, and he has decorated her walls with beautiful drawings of birds. His name is Tayeb and she will meet him again.Lizzie and Eva are traveling with Millicent, an older experienced female missionary who has a very strong personality and seems to wield an enormous influence on the impressionable Lizzie. As they approach the end of a very difficult journey through the desert, the women hear a woman wailing, who turns out to be a very young girl in the throes of child birth. Millicent determines that they must assist with the delivery, though they are not trained nurses or midwives. When the birth mother dies, the strangers on the road who have stopped to watch, accuse the women of killing the young mother and take steps to have the missionaries arrested. Thus begins their interaction with the people they ostensibly have come to save. Millicent offers the infant to anyone in the crowd who might be related to the child, but no one comes forward. She then assigns child care duties to Eva.Back in present day London Frieda receives a perplexing letter from the government informing her that she has inherited the contents of a deceased woman's apartment since she is identified in their records as next of kin. Certain that this is a mistake, she calls her dad, who doesn't recognize the name. Frieda's mother had left the commune where the family lived when Frieda was 7, and her dad gave her information of her mom's last known whereabouts in case Frieda wanted to check with her.The book follows both stories switching back and forth as they move toward the point where the seemingly disparate stories eventually merge. In the meantime we see how cultural differences and language barriers affect communication and community and how love and sacrifice intertwine to create a whole new story.Quite the good read with lots to ponder when at last the tale has been told.

  • Nicola Mansfield
    2019-03-28 01:13

    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.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-01 22:52

    It is the 1920s and Evangeline English, her sister Lizzie, and their missionary leader, Millicent, have travelled to Turkestan with plans of converting the local Muslim population to Christianity. However, Evangeline has no real interest or intention in establishing a mission or in converting "the heathens". Rather, Evangeline has secret plans to write a travel guide based on what she sees and experiences in Kashgar. It is also present day London, and Frieda is a modern-world professional stuck in an unproductive relationship with a selfish married man; and Tayeb is an "illegal" from Yemen who finds himself homeless and sleeping in the corridor outside Frieda's apartment. The two form an unlikely friendship and together they go about investigating the origins of a mysterious inheritance, of which Frieda has found herself unwillingly in possession. A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is split between two periods, 1920s Turkestan and modern London, and is, ultimately, three stories in one: Evangeline, Frieda and Tayeb. Having said that, however, it was Evangeline's story that is the basis for the novel as a whole, and the one that I personally found the most interesting. The manner in which the novel is written, with each individual component consistently interrupting the others, made it feel disjointed and the characters distant. It is assumed that the three central characters must be connected in some way, but this only starts to become clear after two thirds of the novel has been read. There are also too many random, insignificant ramblings, where the story veers off on tangents, more often than not right in the middle of a really interesting piece. I found this frustrating. Overall, I found Evangeline's story to be the most interesting of the three; the events surrounding her time in Kashgar are the reason I kept reading until the end, and I would have been perfectly content had this novel been her story alone.

  • Lauren K
    2019-04-18 01:52

    4.5 starsA Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar is a gem of a read! What a surprisingly absorbing story that lured me in from the very first chapter when an eleven year old girl is giving birth on the side of the road on the route to Kashgar in 1923. Lizzie and Eva are sisters, travelling as missionaries with their leader, Millicent. Eva takes the opportunity to cycle as they travel with the hope of writing a guide to cycling in the Middle East, she loves to cycle.The story also switches to modern day London, Frieda’s life takes a different path when she arrives home from a work trip in the Middle East to find she has inherited the possessions of a woman named Irene Guy. Frieda also befriends an immigrant from Yemen who takes residence on her front doorstep and together they investigate the identity of Irene and how their lives are connected.Back in 1923; Eva, Lizzie and Millicent are under house arrest in Kashgar due to allegations that they killed the 11 year old girl. The girl died during childbirth following the successful delivery of her baby by Millicent. Eva becomes attached to the baby and becomes her primary carer as the locals are resistant to embracing a baby associated with death. The themes around religion and cultural beliefs were really fascinating and in particular the reception of Christianity into a Muslim community was of interest. Many of the themes and the challenges faced by the characters were thought-provoking and emotionally charging.It’s difficult to describe what exactly I loved about this book, I do think the author skilfully creates subtleties in characters that foster intrigue and instead of dumping information on the reader there’s space for the reader to make up their own mind about the characters and the issues raised. Highly recommended read!

  • Judy
    2019-04-04 05:56

    I picked this book up from the stack from the library primarily because it's due back on Thursday thinking that I would read for 15 minutes or so. Best laid plans--I read this while I was cooking breakfast, I read it while eating breakfast, I read it in the garden, I read it all afternoon. I couldn't put it down. In her debut novel, Suzanne Joiner seamlessly weaves together two stories. In the first, set in 1923, three young English women find themselves under house arrest in Kashgar, Turkestan after being accused of murder. The three were missionaries, although to be fair, Evangeline English is accompanying her younger sister, Elizabeth, (riding a green BSA Lady Roadster) more for the adventure rather than out of concern for the saving of souls. Rounding out the trio is Millicent Frost who dominates Elizabeth and suspects that Evangeline is interested more in writing a book about their travels than proselytizing. The murder charge was the result of the three women trying to help a young girl they found lying by the side of the road giving birth. After her baby girl was born, the girl bled to death. In the second story, set in the present in London, Frieda Blakeman, befriends a young man from Yemen she discovers sleeping in the hallway outside of her apartment. Returning from a trip in the Middle East, Frieda also finds a letter informing her that she has been listed as next-of-kin to a recently deceased woman named Irene Guy. Frieda has never met anyone named Irene Guy and now she has a week to clean out Irene's apartment before the contents are sold for salvage. Slowly, by alternating how the two stories unfold, Joinson reveals the connections.

  • Richard
    2019-03-30 03:55

    A wonderful debut novel by a young writing quickly mastering her craft; this book champions her skills and I hope it reaches a large audience.Through a surprise inheritance two different stories converge together with common themes of religious zeal, motherhood and infidelity.Often told with wit; aided by a rich texture of research Suzanne Joinson demonstrates the art of story telling without trying to moralise or use too many words.There is the sense of danger as we travel with Eva and by contrast the lack of direction Frieda even in trying to find out what she wants from life.Complex characters abound in this book; there is a complete lack of stereotype and cliche; the novel gently throbs with companionship and a sense of time and place.There is no compulsion to rush to the end; the beauty and magic is in the story that unfolds in a relaxed pace slowly bringing the central players to a common place, a shared belonging. This is interesting in itself but the most lasting themes are the strength and resilience to overcome. The desire to understand yourself in terms of place, family and blood. The need to belong and the power of writing/imagery.History can be as dry as bones but in this author's hands it lives and has a real place in all our stories today.This novel transports you to far away lands, educates you in former times and sweeps you along in imagery and its choice of words. It is a book worth reading and re-reading for it not only entertains but it leaves a big smile on your face.If I hadn't felt obliged to review this book, having received an advance copy I would have missed this fine book altogether and my life would be poorer for that.

  • Candace
    2019-04-25 05:52

    Suzanne Joinson’s split narrative novel is the kind of book you will indeed finish even though you will be constantly aware of the pitfalls of this narrative style with every chapter. My, that sounded pretentious, but how hard must it be to keep two narratives going and have them both be equally interesting? How hard can it be to find a modern story to compete with a 1920’s Englishwoman writing a guide for ladies who want to go bicycling for heaven’s sake through a remote Muslim area of western China?Damn hard. Joinson’s parallel story takes too long to ramp up. Modern-day Frieda forms an odd bond with a Yemeni man who stays in the flat she inherits from an unknown relative. Of the two women, Frieda is the hardest to connect with. Cyclist Eva makes her trip to Kashgar not only to write her Guide, but to accompany her sister who, aflame with religion, has hooked up with a rather frightening missionary. Frieda is an odd loner who is caught up in an affair with a married man. This relationship, meant to humanize her, is simply inexplicable. What will keep you reading is wondering how these two stories are ever going to come together, but when they do it is rushed and not entirely believable. Joinson should have the confidence that her story would hold readers for a few more pages to wrap Eva and Frieda’s stories up as they deserve.I read this novel through Netgalley, and I thank them for the opportunity!

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    2019-04-21 22:59

    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.

  • Susan Johnson
    2019-04-07 03:13

    When I first received this book I did not know where Kashgar was. I had to go to the Internet to discover it was on an old China silk trade route. I'm still a little unclear on the exact location as it's bordered by states with names I neither know or can say. It really made it clear to be just how big the adventure was that Eva accompanied by her sister, Lizzie, and a fiery missionary, Millicent, set out on. It's breathtaking that these three women set out on this fantastic leap of faith to explore new places in 1923. Eva takes her bicycle and a book contract to write about her adventures and sets off on this VERY long and hard trip. She's not out to save anyone but just knows she wants something else in her life.Her story fluctuates with that of Frieda, a young woman in present day in London. She is an Arabic youth specialist who spends much of her time in the Mideast. Involved with a married man and dissatisfied with her job, life changes for her suddenly. She finds a young, Arabic man sleeping on her doorstep and gives him a blanket and a pillow. She also receives an unexpected inheritance from an Irene Guy, someone she doesn't know.The story is how these two very different and yet similar women's discoveries on life unfold. What do they have in common? The answer is at the end and not what I expected. A little overwritten at times and a little far fetched at others, it is still quite interesting and worth a read.

  • Kristine Hansen
    2019-04-11 01:01

    I am not sure how to classify this book. And while there is rarely any bike ridden in the course of the manuscript, the story does meander along with all the speed and grace of a long bicycle ride, allowing the reader close glimpses into vignettes passed along the way.This is indeed the beauty of this book.The two stories, one set in the 1920's in Kashgar and the other in England currently, intertwine in some obvious ways, others not so much. What on the surface are several storylines of a journey interrupted, also forces the reader to take a hard look at the masks we wear.At times lyrical and beautiful, at times harsh and painful to read, A Lady Cyclist takes you on an unexpected journey.Don't expect rapidfire pacing - take the journey slow. The way you would on a bicycle.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-04-01 01:53

    3.5 Actually two stories, the first in 1923 in Turkestan and the second in the present. The first story started quickly, with Millicent, an dictatorial missionary and two sisters stranded in Kasgar. The second story started out slower but I ended up liking it more. Loved the history, the clashes between Christians and Muslims as well as the political climate under a Chinese ruled Turkistan. Frieda and Tayeb were my favorite characters and both stories highlighted the importance of family history as well as trying to break culture barriers when you are a stranger to that country. Beautifully written this was a most interesting and different read. ARC from NetGalley.

  • Gwen
    2019-04-06 22:02

    Really enjoyable! Don't understand the bad reviews at all. Well-written characters with the landscape being an extra one. An interesting exploration of human relationships. Recommended.

  • Chaitra
    2019-03-26 23:01

    Such a disappointment. I got reeled in by the jacket blurb and the cover and thought that it would be a story about one woman with spunk that would be needed surely to write the Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar? Instead I got not one, but two overwhelmingly obnoxious and stupid lady protagonists. Do not be suckered! This isn't a guide, this isn't even an honest attempt at a guide. Let alone being a window into a strange land at a distant time, there's no real understanding in Joinson's Kashgari heroine of her own sister. So the plot of her story goes like this: she hates dull dreary England, so when her sister catches the missionary bug, Eva follows her into China with the intention of writing a guide. There is even a publishing deal that she's secured for said guide. So far, so good. Except things begin to go wrong as soon as they get into Kashgar, and one of their number is held to a trial due to cultural misunderstanding. Their Mission drops them like a super hot potato (which I didn't think was actually done). Throughout their forced stay in Kashgar, we get these equations beaten over our head: Millicent (the lady on trial)=bad, Lizzie (Eva's sister)=stupid and lost and sleeping with Millicent, Mission=not helpful, Muslims=hate missionaries and Eva=stupid because she doesn't understand the previous equations even though she's the one doing the beating. And the central premise of the book=Misleading! Eva doesn't want to go anywhere - when they land in Kashgar she whines. Here? Do I really need to be in the desert? And then in rapid fashion in the last twenty pages or so of the book, she "travels" - that is to say, she runs with basically no other choice left to her. She's only happy once she comes to a place that she calls "unhygienic" but, it's got one European style house with two floors! and Switzerland-style mountains just half an hour away! This is truly a spectacular place to visit, people. A home away from home indeed. The funniest part is that once she gets back to England, this "guide" actually gets published.Which makes Frieda, the present time heroine's story ridiculous and pointless. Anyhow, she is next of kin to someone who just died and she's given seven days by the state to sort out the dead lady's belongings. Tada! The dead lady is connected to the cyclist lady (obviously) and she's also connected to Frie except how is a mystery. Ingenious! This is obviously a pointless connection. Her totally useless storyline is further confused by an illegal immigrant character from Yemen for some reason. Why Yemen? The book gives us no clue. In a completely contrived sequence that involves luring an accidentally freed owl (no, seriously) back into its cage, Frieda and this guy Tayeb get together and then decide to putter around the dead old lady's apartment for lack of anything better to do. Tayeb is obviously handy with more than just the owl. He conveniently knows that the Leica they find is an early model because he was a filmmaker, he knows what looks like a printing press is a mimeograph because he worked in a printing press, he knows how to cook oxtail soup because, well, he worked in a restaurant and he sees Frieda kind of naked and the first thing he thinks of is to draw a tattoo on her back, because that's the most Arabic thing he does - draw animal calligraphy on walls. And he does the pointing and the recognizing of things within two seconds of being in the old house. The cooking takes the bulk of the time in the apartment - nine hours. He's also the responsible party who finds what seems to be the only photograph in the house available in the first two seconds. He finds this in the bible. What he was doing picking up the bible is anyone's guess - maybe his next profession will be to imitate a man of the cloth.Honestly, that's about it. Joinson introduces several different cultures (she's not satisfied with one or two) and basically spits on all of them. Even the poor old ladies of the English suburbs are not spared. At least we can call her not racist. We get Frieda telling Tayeb that she just cannot put down Eva's notebook - it's so interesting! I couldn't put it down either, but that's because I need to return the book to the library today. We get some half-hearted family plot threads that are opened to give the characters some depth I think. They're not resolved, but the author basically makes us think that they're resolved in the last chapter where Frieda stands at the sea shore and apparently the foam washes away all the unresolved plot lines. Handy. I truly wanted to like this book, but all it gave me was a lot of material to criticize in a lengthy "review".

  • Cat
    2019-03-27 04:00

    3.5 stars (Come on goodreads with the half stars!) Crossposted here.I was initially intrigued by the subject matter of A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar, a lovely debut novel written by Suzanne Joinson.* The story alternates between two times and places - 1923 Kashgar and present day London - and follows two young women whose lives are vaguely connected, though you don't find out how until maybe a quarter of the way through the novel. Eva, from whose perspective the 1923 portion of the story is told, is a young woman posing as a missionary both to accompany her sister on an expedition to Asia and to gather material for a travel guide she hopes to write. Her sister Lizzie has become taken with Millicent, the elder, leader missionary, whose methods of conversion involve latching on to a woman's secret unhappiness in order to manipulate them into separating from their current way of life and joining the evangelical mission. On their journey, the stumble upon a young girl about to give birth. Though they try deliver the baby safely, the too-young mother dies, and the local people accuse Millicent of murder. They are taken to Kashgar and put on a sort of indefinite, somewhat loose house arrest. In present day London, Frieda, an academic scholar whose work involves much travel to Muslim areas to work on her research, has returned from her latest expedition to realize she's completely dissatisfied with her life, both her career and her relationship with a drunkard married man who appears to have no redeeming qualities (making one question why on earth she ever bothered with him to begin with - purely for the physical relationship seems to be the answer). Tayeb, a Yemeni in London illegally after his travel visa ended years ago, has been found out by the authorities and is trying to avoid deportation back to Yemen where he would most likely be jailed or killed. Frieda receives a strange death notice in the mail, and the story takes off from there. To be fair, it took quite a while for this book to pick up for me - possibly until a quarter or a third of the way through. The 1923 thread was fairly intriguing right away, but the journal-style read a little awkwardly for a while. The present day bit, following Frieda and Tayeb who form an unlikely bond in an almost too unlikely way, took a little too long to explain what was going on and why we should be interested. But right about the time the connection between the two stories becomes clear, the stories both really seem to hit their stride. Through Eva, we learn a little about Kashgar, a formerly Buddhist town in western China that had become mostly Muslim. It is one of the towns on the Silk Road, and during this time period attacks are beginning in the region. She's brought her bicycle along and occasionally manages to ride around town, and it later becomes crucial to her survival. Frieda discovers more about her past than she ever thought to ask. Both women in the process come into their own and realize important qualities about their characters.The bicycle remains in the background of much of the story, symbolizing both responsibility and freedom. The book is interspersed with bicycle guidance, a touchpoint of recurring themes: What the Bicycle Does: Mounted on a wheel, you feel at one the keenest sense of responsibility. You are there to do as you will within reasonable limits; you are continually called upon to judge and to determine points that before have not needed your consideration, and consequently you become alert, active, quick-sighted and keenly alive, as well to the rights of others as to what is due yourself. Though the novel did start off slowly for me, and had a few elements of unbelievability, it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. I generally enjoy novels that give a glimpse of other cultures, and this one lives up to that. It is also a refreshing story about women in that it does not revolve around men or their relationship to men, but rather their relationship with each other, with their families, and with themselves. *I received this book for early review courtesy of Bloomsbury via NetGalley.