Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: The Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

What makes you choose to read a book?  The title?  The book cover?  A review?  Favorite author?  For me, it can be any of those reasons, or even a combination.  As part of my job, I read book reviews so I see the titles of lots of new books, as well as read their reviews.  Some of my review sources even show the front cover.  Of course, I also have my favorite authors.
When I saw the title The Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar I was intriqued.  The first review I read was very good, so I put it on my list of books to read (which I keep on, a great place to keep track of books).  One of the book review blogs that I follow also reviewed it and that really piqued my interest, so I put it on reserve.  Oh, the cover is very intriquing as well.  Warm yellows with an early 20th century woman cyclist standing in front of the mountains of an Asian desert.
The book tells two stories, one in 1923 of three British women missionaries (Millicent, Eve, and Lizzie) to Kashgar.  The other of a young British woman-Frieda, and a young Yemeni man-Tayab, in present day London.  The missionaries witness a young girl trying to give birth outside of her town as they arrive in Kashgar.  Millicent, the lead missionary, helps the girl give birth, but the young woman dies and the community blames Millicent.  Millicent gives the baby to Eve to take care of.  As it turns out, Eve is not interested in the missionary work, but her sister Lizzie is, and she didn't want to be parted from her.  She is writing a book about their travels.  The three are put under house arrest while the authorities decide what to do about Millicent.  She continues with her unorthodox missionary style, which does not help her cause.
Frieda is just back from an overseas trip when she notices Tayab sleeping in the hall outside her flat.  He is in the country illegally and is in hiding.  While going through her mail, Freida discovers that she has been named next of kin to someone who has died and she is asked to clear out that woman's flat.  She asks her father if he knows this woman, but he doesn't, so she decides to get in contact with her mother, who left Frieda when she was seven.  One of the things Frieda finds when cleaning the flat is the book Eve wrote!
The book is beautifully written, and the stories are fascinating.  I wondered how they would come together, and if my guess about it was right. (It was!) 

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
By Joinson, Suzanne
2012-05 - Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
9781608198115 Check Our Catalog

Like "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" or "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," a wondrous, richly conceived, irresistible debut novel that sweeps the reader away to a different world. …More

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