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

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson
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May 22, 12

bookshelves: work-review-related-reading
Read from May 12 to 18, 2012

This debut novel has a lot going on. There are two stories. The first is set in 1923 and involves a lady missionary who has found a disciple in Eva's sister Lizzie. Concerned about her epileptic sister, and not wanting to miss out on an adventure, Eva joins the duo as they head to Turkestan, to help with the missionary work (though not really a believer) and to write a travel book about the area. That book is named the same as this novel. The journey is hard, and things go horribly wrong for the women when they stop to help a very young outcast girl who was in labor at the side of the road. The girl dies and the women are put under arrest for her death, as well as given the task of taking care of the new baby. The area at the time is rife with unrest thanks to the very uneasy cohabitation of the Muslim and the Chinese in the area. Political unrest, religion, women's issues and sexuality make for tinder for a fire just waiting to explode.

The second story is told in the modern day about an independent young woman, Frieda, who travels the world yet still feels a bit lost. One night she finds a man sleeping outside her door. A gentle soul, she brings him a blanket and a pillow, thus striking up a very interesting relationship that deepens as Frieda is informed of an inheritance from a woman she has never heard of.

The true magic of this book is that these two narratives slowly twine together creating a story that is far larger than its parts. The subtle and very literary writing is simply brilliant. This is an astonishing debut of a writer who is about to become very, very well known.

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