Amy's Reviews > A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson
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Jul 13, 12

bookshelves: east-asia_southeast-asia
Read in July, 2012

In 1920s Kashgar, Evangeline finds herself taking care of an adopted newborn baby girl. When a local rebellion turns its attention on her fellow missionary, she must escape on foot over the mountains.

In modern-day London, Frieda finds herself responsible for the belongings of a woman she's never heard of before. Solving the mystery of this unknown next-of-kin makes Frieda find her mother (now living on a bizarre commune in Sussex) and connect with a Yemeni street artist who sleeps in her stairwell.

This would be a 3.5 stars book for me. It's full of sad, lonely characters and left me feeling moody. Plus the split narrative wore on me after a while. But the writing is interesting--slow-paced and dreamy, poetic. And kudos to the author for not giving what I'd expected.

I expected a Lucy Honeychurch type of character, having adventures, figuring out what makes her so English and what makes everyone else so . . . not English. Lots of tea and friendships and cringeworthy Orientalism, which the modern Frieda would somehow rehabilitate.

But there's nothing so cozy here. This is a complicated, kind of dark exploration of mothers and daughters. Nurturing, abandoning, rejecting, resenting, generation after generation. Everyone roaming and restless.

My favorite character was Tayeb, the Yemeni man living in London past his visa. And he's probably not even necessary for the story. The owl was a nice touch too.
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