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Literary Friday: A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

Friday, September 14, 2012


This week I read A Lady Cyclists's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson. This is Joinson's first novel, and I will definitely read more of her books in the future.  The book contains two stories that are about 100 years apart.  First there is Evangeline, a young lady who accompanies her sister, Elizabeth, on a mission trip to Kashgar in Western China during the 1920s.  Kashgar is one of the most remote cities in the world, so I thought the premise of a lady actually selling the idea for a lady cyclist's guide to Kashgar to a publisher as highly unlikely. Evangeline fools the mission board that she wants to travel to China as a missionary, but really she is only out to have an adventure with her sister while writing the guidebook. 

Elizabeth and Evangeline's mission leader to is Millicent, a middle-aged missionary who is manipulative and twisted.  I truly hated this character, and I found her a bit far-fetched.  I wish Joinson had balanced this hateful character with a stronger missionary who was committed to serving the China Inland Mission and God because when I think of Chinese missionaries, I immediately think of one of my heroes, Lottie Moon.  When the ladies first arrive, a young girl is giving birth right outside the gates of Kashgar.  Millicent helps the girl deliver and hands the baby to Evangeline.  The mother dies, and the three ladies are soon put under house arrest for murder.  They are placed in a hotel run by a Mohammed and his family, and soon cultures and religions clash.

In present-day London, Frieda peeks out her door and finds a Middle-Eastern man sitting in the hallway outside her apartment.  She gives him a blanket and pillow, and the next morning she finds lovely feathers and Arabic words that have been drawn on the hallway wall.  Tayeb, the artist, befriends Frieda and helps her solve a mystery:  An elderly aunt unknown to Frieda has left her belongings to Frieda.  While clearing out the aunt's home, Frieda discovers a journal and a copy of A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

Both stories eventually come together as the identity of the mysterious aunt is revealed.  As much as I hated Millicent, I think I preferred the story in the past because I was unsatisfied with Frieda and Tayeb's ending.  I thought it was too ambiguous, and I would have appreciated more closure.  I must say that my timing in reading this book couldn't have been better based on what has been happening in the Arab world this week.  Eastern and Western philosophies, religions, and culture clash in this novel in both Evangeline and Frieda's worlds.

Suzanne Joinson discusses A Lady Cylist's Guide to Kashgar


On Friday, October 5th, I will be hosting a special Literary Friday for Banned Books Week. Please read your favorite banned book, write a post, and link-up!  You can read my post about it here.

This is a linky, so share your book *love*  :D

Until next time...

Happy Reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I will be back to link up later with one I think you might enjoy. This sounds fabulous, never heard of it before but your review has meant it goes straight on the wishlist.

  2. Have you read The Places in Between by Rory Stewart? You might enjoy it. I have not done as much reading recently as I have in the past. I am however thinking of my favorite banned book.
    Have a great weekend!

    Susan and Bentley

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  4. Sounds awesome! Checking to see if the library has this one. If not, I may have to hunt it down at the store.

  5. This looks interesting, I love the cover, what a glamourous era for dress!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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