Friday, 31 May 2013

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is a quirky novel with an even quirkier title, bringing together a cast of characters from very different worlds with very different outlooks.

Evangeline takes her bicycle when she tags along with her sister Lizzie and her imposing missionary friend, Millicent, on their journey into Kashgar. It is 1923 and the region, bordered by Mongolia, Tibet and Russia, has had its fair share of invasions, both military and religious, so it's not surprising the locals treat the women with distrust. When Millicent and Eva stop to help a girl give birth, the young mother dies and Eva is literally left holding the baby.

Meanwhile, in present day London, Frieda returns from work in the Middle East to find a stranger camping on her stairwell and a letter informing her she has inherited the estate of a relative she has never heard of. These personal effects include a diary and an owl. The stranger is  Tayeb, a Yemeni overstayer who luckily knows a thing or two about birds. Together they embark upon a quest to find out about Frieda’s lost relative, taking Frieda into the uncomfortable territory that is her past.

The novel flips from one character to the other as it tells the stories of Eva and Frieda, both of which are packed with drama and uncertainty. Each character makes disturbing and life-changing discoveries which makes the plot gripping enough to keep you reading, with a richness of perception that makes the novel deeply satisfying.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue Link: A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

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