26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A Stunning Debut,
This review is from: A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (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.