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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar Paperback – International Edition, July 5, 2012

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Paperback, International Edition, July 5, 2012
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; Export/Airside ed edition (July 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408825201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408825204
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,952,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A haunting, original and beautifully written tale that conveys a sense of profound alienation, and of other realities Paul Torday, bestselling author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen A heartfelt story about adventurous women and a fascinating history of life in a remote corner of the Silk Road in the early twentieth century; utterly beguiling Rebecca Stott, author of The Coral Thief Beautifully written in language too taut, piercing, and smartly observed to be called lyrical, this atmospheric first novel immediately engages, nicely reminding us that odd twists of fate sometimes aren't that odd. Highly recommended Library Journal An astonishing epic - colonial-era travel combined with a modern meditation on where we belong and how we connect in the world - I could not put it down Helen Simonson Eccentric and full of twists and surprises and in the end very touching. Above all bold and different and extremely readable Katharine McMahon, author of The Rose of Sebastopol Richly imaginative and daring in the way it weaves together time-scapes and landscapes Gillian Beer A wonderfully evocative, fresh and impressive debut. I admired its scope and its unexpectedness Jill Dawson Suzanne Joinson's first novel is a finely-worked and captivating read. She combines her own wealth of travel experiences with vivid characters from past and present, resulting in a delicate yet richly-layered story. Delicious Stella Duffy

About the Author

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 England. www.suzannejoinson.com @suzyjoinson

Customer Reviews

It was a wonderful and exciting book to read and I highly recommend it.
G. Messersmith
So for me this was good story, well written with great atmosphere, likeable characters and an interesting plot.
Philly gal
The characters were unbelievable and there were too many ends left at the close of the book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Miss Barbara TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I tend to dismiss most of the so-called "Lady Books" out of hand anticipating the Chick-lit brand of formulaic story style. I am so glad that I made an exception for A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar. This is a well written novel; actually at times a little overwritten, but it's Suzanne Joinson's first novel so we'll overlook that.

The story comes together in two strands, like the double helix, joining at the end and coalescing to present a fully formed chronicle of two tales set a century apart.

The narrator in 1923 is Eva, with the fiery red hair but plain of face. She was once told by a gentleman that "You have the hair of a Burne-Jones beauty, but sadly not the face". Her sister Liz, a photographer, has a Calling and joins missionary Millicent to bring The Word to the people along the old Silk Road. Eva, with her big green bicycle in tow, goes along under false pretenses but is actually scheming to write a travel book in this foreign and exotic land. She laments "I have convinced Millicent of my missionary calling. I have convinced a publisher of the worth of my proposed book. I have even tricked my dear sister who believes that I am here in His name: to do His Good Works. I should be feeling cleaver......To my surprise....I realize that I am quite terrified of the desert; of its insects that grow louder with the dusk; of its relentlessness, of becoming simply bones, left in a desert to petrify".

The trio is almost immediately put under house arrest in Kashgar by Mohammed, a Muslim, who accommodates them in his home with his wives and children. The clash of culture and religion sets an interesting plot point for the author to entertain us.

The second strand of the story is set in London in the present day.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Pippa Lee VINE VOICE on March 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The blurb describes "A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar" as wondrous. However, after I finished the book, I felt rather a little bit depressed at this inter-generational story of women struggling to make peace with their pasts.

Author Suzanne Joinson intertwines the stories of two women. One is about Evangeline (Eva) English who in 1923 is detained along with her sister, Lizzie, in the city of Kashgar, East Turkestan as their fellow missionary and mentor, Millicent Frost, is accused of a murder. The other story is that of Frieda Blaekman, the present-day Londoner who suddenly becomes responsible for the contents of an apartment of a deceased woman whose name she has never heard of before. Joinson uses the journal form to bring Evangeline closer in time to the readers while Frieda's story is narrated in third person so that we can fit together the pieces of her life and that of Tayeb, the illegal immigrant she befriended when she found him spending the night outside her apartment door.

On the surface, one may read Joinson's book as a historical adventure. Kashgar in the 1920s is an exotic but dangerous place. At another level, it could be a criticism toward religious control and power. However, Ms. Joinson paints equally unflattering portraits of both missionaries and gurus so that neither Western nor Eastern traditions win the day. At a deeper level, and this is one of the few things I liked about "A Lady Cyclist's Guide", was that the author touches on how we seem to be destined to repeat our parents' mistakes. Both Frieda and Eva struggle to make sense of their parents' views of love and their relationship choices as they affect their own.

I found Eva's story to be the most engaging of the two.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Two stories from two centuries intertwine in this exotic tale of distant travel, danger, betrayal, culture clashes, and loves lost and found. The narration alternates between present day London and 1923 Kashgar in a complex time shift with time moving ever faster. Or perhaps I just read faster as I became more and more involved in the story.

Knowing the ways of storytellers, I quickly surmised that the two disparate stories would eventually come together. Anticipation was pleasantly suspenseful, fueled by mysterious happenings.

The present-day heroine is Frieda Blakeman, a compulsive traveler who's highly paid to research the thinking of the youths of East and West. The early twentieth-century heroine is Evangeline English, who's posing as a missionary so she can write a travel guide to Kashgar. Miss English is traveling with her beautiful, ethereal photographer-sister - and a zealous, domineering older woman who leads their expedition.

Thrilling and frightening adventures await the reader in Kashgar. Equally colorful adventures unfold in London.

I found the structure of the novel clever and the story engaging. The portrait of fanatical religious attitudes (Eastern and Western) was thought provoking. Sometimes the writing is too self-consciously literary for my taste. But readers more poetic than me will probably love it.

If you think you'd enjoy an exotic adventure across time and space, and a fanciful prose style, then I'd recommend A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar.
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