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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  3,487 Ratings  ·  821 Reviews

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,

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 4th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2012)
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Maia B.
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
Jun 24, 2013 Becca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
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 did
Jeannie Mancini
Dec 13, 2012 Jeannie Mancini rated it it was ok
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 creat ...more
Ricki Treleaven
Mar 09, 2013 Ricki Treleaven rated it really liked it
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 cycli ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Roxanne rated it really liked it
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 o
May 28, 2012 Grace rated it liked it
Author: Suzanne Joinson (pub date June 4) (n)
Title: A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar
Description: 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. Fr
Feb 04, 2013 Knitme23 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 read ...more
Kerry Hennigan
“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
Sep 09, 2012 Felice rated it really liked it
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 passion
Mar 15, 2012 Lindsay rated it liked it
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 earl ...more
Helen Bookwoods
Jan 27, 2013 Helen Bookwoods rated it liked it
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 abo ...more
Aug 26, 2016 Deborah rated it did not like it
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
Nicola Mansfield
Aug 02, 2012 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
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
Lauren K
Aug 30, 2012 Lauren K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
A 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 da
Aug 05, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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 contr
Mar 30, 2012 Candace rated it liked it

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
Meg - A Bookish Affair
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 pic
Susan Johnson
Apr 05, 2012 Susan Johnson rated it really liked it
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 exp ...more
Kristine Hansen
Jan 04, 2013 Kristine Hansen rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, fiction
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 journ
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 h ...more
Feb 26, 2012 Cat rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley, 2012
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
Nancy Brisson
Sep 01, 2012 Nancy Brisson rated it liked it
I enjoyed many things about A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar: A Novel by Suzanne Joinson, but not everything. I enjoyed the way it shifted between present day London and the three missionary ladies who left London in 1923 to save souls in the deserts of Sinkiang (or Eastern Turkestan). In present day London we follow Frieda who studies young people in Middle Eastern nations for a foundation. We find her disillusioned by the kinds of things the foundation wants her to study and she finds that sh ...more
Jul 06, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it
The title caught me first. Then the cover. And oh, the endpapers, they were quite wonderful …

My imagination had been captured, and I was quite ready for the story to take hold of me. It did.

I found myself in Kashgar, in East Turkestan, in 1923. I was in the company of three lady. Christian missionaries. Millicent was their leader, a very capable woman, who was quite sure of the rightness of her mission but was maybe unable to understand that others might see the world rather differently. Lizzie
May 04, 2012 Kiki rated it it was amazing
I decided to read this book after seeing the cover, and liking the time period mentioned in the summary of the book. I had no idea, really, that I would enjoy it so much. Great storytelling, told in a unique way, with two threads of a story running parrallel and occasioanally interweaving. This novel does not disappont.

Naturally, being the curious reader I am, I immediately looked up Kashgar on the internet after reading the first chapter. Kashgar (accoeding to the almighty Wikipedia), is a cit
Apr 13, 2012 Vicki rated it really liked it
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 researc ...more
Vera Marie
Oct 30, 2013 Vera Marie rated it it was amazing
I first became aware of Suzanne Joinson when I read Better Than Fiction , the collection of travel essays edited by Don George for Lonely Planet. I was fascinated by her story of a research trip to the Silk Road area she was going to write about in A Lady Cyclist s Guide to Kashgar. Her personal story was exciting and her writing was fresh and intriguing.

The book does not disappoint. In fact it was even more than I had thought when I read her description in the essay "Chasing Missionaries."

My m
Jun 05, 2012 Beth rated it really liked it
A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar is two separate tales of cultural and social difference.

The first tale is of Evangeline English, cycling trip across East Turkestan in 1923. Evangeline (Eva) and her sister Lizzie embark on a missionary trip to the middle east under the authority of an idealistic Millicent (leader of their missionary group). Millicent and Eva come across a young girl giving birth on the side of the road. They find themselves in a precarious situation when the girl dies after th
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Apr 09, 2015 08:27AM  
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From her website:

Suzanne Joinson works in the literature department of the British Council, and regularly travels widely across the Middle East, North Africa, China and Europe. In 2007 she won the New Writing Ventures award for Creative Non-Fiction for ‘Laila Ahmed’. She is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London and lives by the sea on the South Coast of Englan
More about Suzanne Joinson...

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“The art of bicycling is a purely mechanical attainment; and though its complications may at first seem hopeless, sufficient practice will result in final mastery.” 7 likes
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