A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson

63%

26 Critic Reviews

As often happens in novels that travel between past and present, the past sparkles while the present pales.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

It is 1923. Evangeline (Eva) English and her sister Lizzie are missionaries heading for the ancient city of Kashgar on the Silk Road. 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 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 each 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 towards home.
 

About Suzanne Joinson

See more books from this Author
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. Visit her Web site at www.suzannejoinson.com.
 
Published May 22, 2012 by Bloomsbury USA. 385 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
All: 26 | Positive: 15 | Negative: 11

Kirkus

Below average
Jun 15 2012

As often happens in novels that travel between past and present, the past sparkles while the present pales.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Sara Wheeler on Jun 01 2012

...thrilling and densely plotted first novel...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Bella Bathurst on Mar 10 2013

This one – the published version – is lovely, perceptive, and occasionally a little gauche. But what radiates from its two leading ladies, and what sticks after the last page, is a brave and terrible loneliness.

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Entertainment Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Melissa Maerz on May 18 2012

These stories in A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar don't intersect as meaningfully as you'd hope...

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Rachel Hore on Jul 01 2012

In service to all this, Joinson's possesses a touching, joyful quality that somehow suits the fragile, elusive nature of her characters.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Beth Jones on Aug 23 2012

...this novel manages to be not only a smartly paced adventure story but also a careful meditation on the myriad ways in which loving, and failing, our children are often tragically and inextricably linked.

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Dallas News

Good
Reviewed by Anne Morris on Jul 13 2012

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar is no light adventure. The characters are well-delineated and original. They die almost routinely, and those who survive are not always the strongest or the most worthy. It’s an engaging story, though, both serious and mysterious.

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Denver Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Robin Vidimos on Jun 03 2012

The result is an interesting and unique juxtaposition of times and experiences that lingers and invites reflection.

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Historical Novel Society

Excellent
Reviewed by Jessica Brockmole on May 01 2012

This was a fun read, with surprises neatly unfolding to a satisfying ending.

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Boston.com

Below average
Reviewed by Nan Goldberg on Jul 02 2012

The alternating-chapters format... interferes with the ability to truly empathize with either character, which is sad, because both the characters and their stories are compelling.

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The Roanoke Times

Above average
Reviewed by Linda Rimel on Jun 17 2012

In Suzanne Joinson’s first novel, “A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar,” what follows is a compelling tale of East meets West...Particularly well-drawn is Tayeb the Yemeni...

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For Books' Sake

Excellent
Reviewed by Sarah Chapman on Jul 05 2012

There has been a lot of hype about this book and I think that it is, largely, justified.

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Book Oxygen

Excellent
Reviewed by N. Cooper

The pleasures provided by this novel don’t end with the last page. Its characters are strong enough to leave the reader with plenty of ideas to think about.

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All the Books I Can Read

Good
Aug 16 2012

I was utterly charmed by both of the stories woven into this book – a truly beautifully written debut.

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BrodartVibe's Blog

Good
Reviewed by Brodart on Apr 20 2012

It is so intriguing I couldn’t read fast enough even though I knew I would hate to see it end.

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Novelicious

Good
Reviewed by Cesca Martin on Jul 12 2012

...this is a colourful and moving debut from Suzanne Joinson and I think many fans of historical fiction will enjoy this read.

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Iris on Books

Good
Reviewed by Iris on Jul 13 2012

Overall Suzanne Joinson offers a solid work of fiction that brings both the world of missionaries in Kashgar and contemporary London to life.

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Tiny Library

Below average
Reviewed by Sam on Jun 16 2012

At times it feels like Joinson is trying to do too much, commenting on travel, motherhood, women's rights, prejudice against Muslims, alternative childhoods, cults and adultery.

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A Bookish Affair

Below average
Reviewed by Meg on Jun 07 2012

I thought the connections could have had more detail.

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Reading Matters

Good
Reviewed by Kim Forrester on Jul 09 2012

...A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is a gorgeous read, tempered by a lovely sense of wry humour, that whisks you away to another world.

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Unabridged Chick

Below average
Reviewed by Audra on Jun 29 2012

...I got so sick of Frieda that I just started skipping her sections to remain in the portions with Eva.

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The Little Reader Library

Above average
Reviewed by Lindsay on Jul 05 2012

Overall I liked this fascinating debut novel; I felt that whilst reading I was able to take a step into the past, and experience with Eva some dangerous, unfamiliar places, and felt tension as I read on,

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A Casual Reader's Blog

Below average
Reviewed by Lisa on Jul 19 2012

There are two main stories, and it is unclear how they are related for quite a bit... the payoff felt a little late for me.

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Fleur Fisher in her world

Below average
Reviewed by Jane on Jul 05 2012

Her story was predictable in places, and there were times when I longed to return to Eva in Kashgar.

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The Goode Word

Below average
Reviewed by Vicki Goode on Jul 11 2012

While this is a well-written book and a decent read, I did not find the prose or the intention as lucid

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Inside of a dog

Good
Reviewed by Annette Thomson on Jul 01 2012

Ms Joinson draws nuanced characters you can believe in and her attention to period and cultural detail is spot on.

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Reader Rating for A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
60%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 147 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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