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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar [Kindle Edition]

Suzanne Joinson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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 met with resistance and calamity, Eva commences work on her book, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar...

In present-day London another story is beginning. Frieda, a young woman adrift in her own life, opens her front door one night to find a man sleeping on the landing. In the morning he is gone, leaving on the wall an exquisite drawing of a long-tailed bird and a line of Arabic script. Tayeb, who has fled to England from Yemen, has arrived on Frieda's doorstep just as she learns that she is the next-of-kin to a dead woman she has never heard of: a woman whose abandoned flat contains many surprises - among them an ill-tempered owl.

The two wanderers begin an unlikely friendship as their worlds collide, and they embark on a journey that is as great, and as unexpected, as Eva's.

A stunning debut peopled by unforgettable characters, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is an extraordinary story of inheritance and the search for belonging in a fractured and globalised world.


Product Description

Review

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)

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)

Thrilling and densely plotted ... An impressive debut, its prose as lucid and deep as a mountain lake. Joinson also has a gift for evoking finely calibrated shifts of feeling... Joinson explores notions of freedom, rootlessness, dislocation - any writer's reliable arsenal. But she makes these themes her own (Sara Wheeler New York Times Book Review)

There's a brilliant sense of place in this original debut (Marie Claire)

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 affecting tale of inheritance and belonging (Woman's Own)

[An] old and elegant first novel ... Joinson's depiction of the continuing cultural, sexual and spiritual conflicts between East and West is provocative and powerful. The present is as richly depicted as the past, with Frieda's professional life and family background as significant as Evangeline's. An ambitious, accomplished debut (Michael Arditti Daily Mail)

The title of Suzanne Joinson's first novel promises much and delivers ... Joinson's characterisation is finely drawn and brings Kashgar vividly to life - it's a debut novel of note (The Lady)

Joinson possesses a touching, joyful quality that somehow suits the fragile, elusive nature of her characters (Independent on Sunday)

Two stories are told in Suzanne Joinson's complex, luminous debut about unconventional women ... With great delicacy, Joinson conveys wonder and horror, both past and present, as the scraps of stories from this cast of wanderers build into an enthralling tale, packed with vivid impressions and full of surprises (Metro)

Brilliantly descriptive, this is a book to delight in and savour (Choice)

A first book by a young Englishwoman impressed me. Suzanne Joinson's A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar consists of two parallel stories, each told from the point of view of a childless female protagonist, one at a shimmering, multi-ethnic Silk Road trading post, the other in contemporary London (Guardian, Books of the Year)

This is a sprightly, engaging and lovingly written book (Guardian)

I was blown away by this debut. It's amazing. Clever, exotic, compulsive, intensely moving (Irish Examiner)

An ambitious debut ... With intriguing characters and exotic locations, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is a compelling and likeable tale ... not only a smartly paced adventure story but also a careful meditation on the myriad ways in which loving, and failing, our children are often tragically and inextricably linked (Sunday Telegraph)

Impressive ... This parallel use of the emigrant/immigrant experience is enlightening an full of dramatic potential ... a novel that very effectively draws you in ... a subtle and pleasing story (Scotland on Sunday)

Joinson balances these parallel stories with impressive skill. In an alternating-chapter narrative, there's always a temptation to skip through one story in favour of the other. Here, both are equally absorbing ... a strikingly original first novel, and a total page-turner. In fact, it has the look of a slow-burn, word-of-mouth favourite (Irish Times)

The opening of this book is nothing if not dramatic! ... With a gripping narrative and two powerful stories, Joinson creates a novel with considerable impact. **** (Lifestyle)

An absolute surefire winner for any bookish bicyclist (Cycling Active)

Joinson's debut switches effectively between the exoticism ... and the bleakness ... Her prose is clear and her tale not without humour, although the historical narrative would have sufficed on its own (Sunday Herald)

Review

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 Thrilling and densely plotted ... An impressive debut, its prose as lucid and deep as a mountain lake. Joinson also has a gift for evoking finely calibrated shifts of feeling... Joinson explores notions of freedom, rootlessness, dislocation - any writer's reliable arsenal. But she makes these themes her own -- Sara Wheeler New York Times Book Review

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1319 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (22 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0081V48XK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #87,320 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Muddled novel 11 Feb. 2013
By T. E. H
Format:Hardcover
On finishing this novel I wasn't sure if I'd liked/enjoyed it or not! It wasn't at all what I had expected, although it was highly emotive, descriptive and quirky. It sounds odd but there was almost too much in it for me to absorb. Every character was eccentric. The bike and cycling seemed superfluousness. I just got into the rhythm of 1890 Kashgar only to be dragged forward into present day London. Maybe there should've been at least two chapters in each era. I was relieved to discover the identity/relationships at the end but can't help thinking there was enough content for two good stories here. After saying all this, I did have to finish it, reading late into the night. Perhaps the novel should've been edited better (sorry Bloomsbury!)
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
A wonderful debut novel by a young writer quickly mastering her craft; this book is a delight, reflecting her skills and I hope it reaches a large audience.
Following a surprise inheritence. Two different stories evolve and finaly converge. Told with different voices but the common themes of religious zeal, motherhood and infidelity. An echo of the past or in our making?
Underplayed humour and great observation; aided by a rich texture of thorough research, Suzanne Joinson demonstrates the true art of story-telling without ever trying to moralise or overlay her new found knowledge. Thus avoiding 150 more pages where authors demonstrate their grasp of historical fiction but lose the plot!

This novel comes alive and remains relevent throughout. There is real danger as we travel with Eva and by contrast the lack of excitement & direction in Frieda's modern life. Thankfully things change for her and her story is equally well drawn with comic twists and delightful prose.
Complex characters abound in this book; there is a complete lack of stereotype and cliche; the novel gently throbs with companionship and a sense of time and place.
There is no compulsion for the reader to rush to the end; the beauty and magic is in the story that unfolds in a relaxed pace slowly bringing the central players to a similar place, a shared belonging. This is interesting in itself but the most lasting themes as demonstrated in the two female leads whose stregth and resilence to overcome is quite inspiring in a quiet way. The desire to understand life in terms of place, occupation and family links. The need to belong and the power of words and drawings.

History can be as dry as bones but in this author's hands it lives and has a contaxt in our stories today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is intriguing in several ways -

the Lady of the title journeys to the East as a missionary (in early C20th), an accidental one as she is more following her sister than acting through any religious conviction, and her sister is largely enthralled by their leader, Millicent. The trio's adventure quickly moves from fool-hardy to perilous; the locals are a mixture of Chinese and Muslims who are verging on their own conflict with little time for new religions.

Interspersed is the story of Frieda who in today's London finds an illegal immigrant sleeping in the hallway outside her flat. Frieda is an independent, well-educated and well-travelled, but this encounter leaves her puzzled and uncertain.

The link between the stories lies with Frieda's estranged new age mother...

It is the kind of book that you want to keep reading - seemingly normal people caught up in strange circumstances and the moral dilemmas these thrown up. It is always possible to relate to the two central characters despite weirdness which surrounds them.

The stories also contrasts the wealth and arrogance of Britain's imperial past that led people to imagine they were entitled and capable to preach to the world, and today's lack of assurance.

But at the end I felt rather empty and let down - like at the end of a roller-coaster ride! I had the feeling it was all too contrived in the worst creative writing tradition and didn't reveal any great secret of human life - the `take-away' was light.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Debut 10 Aug. 2012
By Sally Zigmond VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel follows the stories of two women, both seemingly totally disconnected. In the nineteen twenties, Eva (the lady cyclist of the title) accompanies her younger sister Lizzie and a woman called Millicent who is determined to convert the local inhabitants of Kashgar to Christianity. In present day London, Frieda finds she has inherited the possessions of a woman she has never heard of and also finds an illegal Yemeni immigrant on her doorstep.

As the two stories alternate we begin to see them form two parts of a continuing story of exile, culture-clashes, fleeing the law and also the deep sense of alienation. Readers know there must be some sort of connection but this is not revealed until much later.

What marks this debut novel out from many others is the sheer quality of the writing, the subtleties of characterization and the depth of insight into human nature. It is witty and sometimes comic but also reflects the tragedy of innocence and what can happen when we stop seeing people as they are but as we want them to be. I know the purpose of the owl is a metaphor for the themes in this novel, but I wish Frieda has let it go free!

If I have any criticism at all, it's that cycling is irrelevant to the novel and revelations come a little too easily. But this does not detract from what is a richly rewarding novel. One to savour.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars She enjoyed it.
Bought it for the mother-in-law. She enjoyed it.
Published 23 days ago by Mike McDowall
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enchanting
Published 4 months ago by June Denny
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
A Amazon suggested read that I found I could not put down perhaps because of my interest in this part of the world. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Long time gone
1.0 out of 5 stars I did not enjoy it, although the others seems to favour it ...
Bought this for a book group. I did not enjoy it, although the others seems to favour it more than I.
Published 6 months ago by DragonSlayer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I enjoyed reading this book. It's the sort of book I may read again sometime.
Published 6 months ago by Mary Heath
4.0 out of 5 stars Something a bit different
A refreshingly different different and engaging story.The characters were well drawn and believable. I loved reading it and it held my interest until the end.
Published 8 months ago by jazzy2
5.0 out of 5 stars The most intriguing book I have read in along time
I loved this book.All the time I was reading it it stayed with me, I kept turning it around d in my mind. Read more
Published 10 months ago by jane shattock
3.0 out of 5 stars a bit disappointing
I read a review about the book in a local magazine so expected more. Still it intrigued me enough to finish the book
Published 12 months ago by AnnelieV
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Yes I quite like this book. Interesting the way the story jumps back and forth between the past and present with two different settings, but they do link together eventually.
Published 12 months ago by joyce white
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Well written with some interesting characters. It ticked the 'bit different' box for me.
Published 12 months ago by LWK
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