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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  4,230 ratings  ·  920 reviews
It is 1923 and Evangeline English, keen lady cyclist, arrives with her sister Lizzie at the ancient Silk Route city of Kashgar to help establish a Christian mission. Lizzie is in thrall to their forceful and unyielding leader Millicent, but Eva's motivations for leaving her bourgeois life back at home are less clear-cut. As they attempt to navigate their new home and are m ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Bloomsbury (first published 2012)
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Average rating 3.26  · 
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Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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 aromas. The mission however turns into something of a nightmare, but a collection of letters etc eventually turns up in modern day London that bring about some answers ...more
Apr 07, 2013 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
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kerry Hennigan
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
“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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
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 :-)
Renita D'Silva
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Deborah aka Reading Mom
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
Diane S ☔
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nicola Mansfield
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 17, 2012 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
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan Johnson
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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
Kristine Hansen
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
This is an incredible story which begins in 1923 and ends in the present day.

In 1923, Missionaries and sisters Eva and Lizzie are traveling the Silk Road to Kashgar. Lizzie is a much stronger believer in The Word and the need to spread it than Eva is. Eva has been promised a commission from a publisher to write of her adventure in a book to be named "A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar" so her motives for spreading The Word do have a financial edge to them more so than preaching for the sake of ge
Janet Wallace
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar was a compelling read. I stayed up reading until my eyes blurred for three nights in a row until I finished it.

From the title I had expected a charming and light book -- like a period movie where the landscapes and costumes are as much of the appeal as the plot. I was wrong.

This book had much more depth and substance. It is set in two places and two time periods -- in both scenarios, we see the clash and bonds between Muslims and Christians. In 1923, we have a
Nancy H
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent story, with a narrative from the 1920's from a lady cyclist in Kashgar intertwining with a modern day story from London. As the pages turn, you just know that the stories are going to intersect, but it isn't until the very end that you find out exactly where, and exactly who some of the characters truly are. It is an absorbing tale, with a time and place that are little known in our modern age.
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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From author's website:


My second novel The Photographer's Wife is out by Bloomsbury in the UK and US. This is what The New York Times had to say

My debut novel A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar was published by Bloomsbury in 2012. It was a US National Bestseller, a Guardian/Observer Book of the Year
2012 and translated into 16 languages. It was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin

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