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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

By Suzanne Joinson

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Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 05 July 2012
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.

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An extraordinary story of inheritance, belonging and the stories that bind us to our past, set in modern-day London and 1920s Kashgar

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. @suzyjoinson


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 *

Joinson's debut is an engrossing narrative that fuses the lives of two women, Eva and Frieda, separated by a 100 years and a 1000 miles yet connected in ways that are slowly revealed. Eva, masquerading as a missionary in Kashgar, East Turkestan, in order to keep an eye on her possibly mad sister, is ostensibly writing a guide to bicycling the region. Frieda, a modern-day government worker in London, is hiding from her married lover while cleaning out the apartment of a mysterious woman who has died and named Frieda her next of kin. Alternating between past and present, Joinson highlights the difficulties women face, which translate across time, as well as their sisterhood, motherhood, lovers, and careers, through ethereal language and engrossing characters. Full of surprising and shocking revelations, this wide-ranging novel is expansive and breathtaking. Narrator Susan Duerden may have detracted from the book's sense of illusory enchantment with her overly formal elocution. VERDICT Recommended to fans of Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone. ["Beautifully written in language too taut, piercing, and smartly observed to be called lyrical, this atmospheric first novel immediately engages the reader, nicely reminding us that odd twists of fate sometimes aren't that odd. Highly recommended," read the starred review of the Bloomsbury hc, LJ 2/1/12.-Ed.]-Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix P.L. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Present and past meld into an exploration of conflicting traditions in an impressive debut that shifts smoothly between 1920s Turkestan and present-day England. In 1923, Evangeline (Eva) English accompanies her fragile sister, Lizzie, on a missionary trip to the ancient Chinese-ruled Muslim city of Kashgar under the supervision of the stern Millicent Frost, who suspects, accurately, that Eva, with her prized bicycle-a "glorious, green BSA Lady's Roadster"-and passion for writing, is more interested in adventure than proselytizing. Surprisingly (and disappointingly), Eva's story is lacking in cycling and exciting exploits. In the present day, well-traveled but stuffy researcher Frieda Blakeman is startled by the appearance of both a letter deeming her the next-of-kin of a recently deceased woman, and Tayeb, an illegal Yemeni immigrant who takes refuge outside her London apartment. Though Frieda and Tayeb's growing bond and the unfolding revelations of the modern story are more compelling than Eva's frustratingly limited experiences and the unpleasantly stereotyped Millicent, Joinson has created in Frieda's unusual history and the parallel struggles of Tayeb and Eva as outsiders and observers an intriguing window into the difficulties of those who attempt to reach across cultural barriers. Map. Agent: Rachel Calder, the Sayle Literary Agency. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

EAN: 9781408825204
ISBN: 1408825201
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.5 centimetres (0.34 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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