Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar
By Suzanne Joinson
Bloomsbury, 2012. 374 pgs. Fiction

In 1923 Eva English, her beautiful sister Lizzie, and Lizzie’s friend Mildred travel as missionaries to distant Kashgar (I had to look it up. Kashgar is in modern day Western China). Though Kashgar is not their final destination they stop to help a young girl give birth. When the girl dies, the local villagers accuse them of witch craft and they are forced to stay in Kashgar until the proper bribes can be arranged.

Since no one is willing to care for the newborn baby, Mildred, in her usual controlling way, demands that Eva take care of the child. As their stay in Kashgar lengthens, Mildred begins to turn the town against them with her fanatic Christian zealotry.

In present day, Frieda Blakeman, finds a Muslim man sleeping on her door step. Taking pity on him, she gives him a pillow and blanket. The man, Tayeb, an illegal immigrant from Yemen and Frieda begin a friendship when she offers to let him stay in an apartment she has just inherited from a woman she has never heard of before.

The book gradually weaves the two stories together to finally reveal their connection. In this debut novel, Suzanne Joinson, attempts to create a provocative look at cultures colliding both historically and in current day. However, I was a bit disappointed with the result. I loved the book cover. I loved the title, but not the book.


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