From the dusty and dangerous roads of China’s ancient city of Kashgar, circa 1923, to the immigrant underground in present-day London, Suzanne Joinson beckons readers with lush, evocative prose, yet never lets her gift for poetry interfere with a good story—or, to be more precise, two good stories. While eight decades divide the dual narratives of A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, heroines Eva and Frieda are tethered by the timeless themes of love, loss and redemption.
The novel opens as Evangeline “Eva” English and her younger sister Lizzie arrive in Kashgar, where they have been dispatched as missionaries. The fragile Lizzie is driven by her religious fervor, but Eva is merely going along for the ride—literally. She hopes to channel her wanderlust and fledgling literary skills into a travel book titled, of course, A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, offering up tips for bicycle riding which also serve as eloquent metaphors for life lessons.
Like the best bicycle rides, Joinson's literary debut is an invigorating delight.
Joinson brings us an equally enigmatic but distinctly different heroine in Frieda. The modern-day single woman is juggling an unsatisfying career, a toxic affair with a loutish married man and a budding friendship with Tayeb, a sensitive artist who also happens to be a homeless illegal immigrant on the lam.
Readers of A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar are certain to enjoy a literary journey that is not unlike the best bicycle ride—invigorating and challenging, with plenty of hills, vales and scenic views to keep one’s blood pumping and spirits soaring.