A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

A Novel

Book - 2012
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It is 1923. Evangeline (Eva) English and her sister Lizzie are missionaries heading for the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar. Though Lizzie is on fire with her religious calling, Eva's motives are not quite as noble, but with her green bicycle and a commission from a publisher to write A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar , she is ready for adventure.

In present day London, a young woman, Frieda, returns from a long trip abroad to find a man sleeping outside her front door. She gives him a blanket and a pillow, and in the morning finds the bedding neatly folded and an exquisite drawing of a bird with a long feathery tail, some delicate Arabic writing, and a boat made out of a flock of seagulls on her wall. Tayeb, in flight from his Yemeni homeland, befriends Frieda and, when she learns she has inherited the contents of an apartment belonging to a dead woman she has never heard of, they embark on an unexpected journey together.

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar explores the fault lines that appear when traditions from different parts of an increasingly globalized world crash into one other. Beautifully written, and peopled by a cast of unforgettable characters, the novel interweaves the stories of Frieda and Eva, gradually revealing the links between them and the ways in which they each challenge and negotiate the restrictions of their societies as they make their hard-won way toward home. A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar marks the debut of a wonderfully talented new writer.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, 2012.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9781608198115
1608198111
Characteristics: 374 p. : map ; 25 cm.

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b
brangwinn
Jan 02, 2016

Interesting story of two independent women in different periods of history. Both are interested in Muslim cultures. The single missionary in the 1920’s who finds herself q single parent to a baby orphan girl turns out to have a connection to the modern single girl who finds herself inheriting the possessions of a woman she didn't know. Both stories are interesting. I particularly enjoyed the historical aspects of Eva’s story about life in a Muslim society and her escape with Ai Lein to Russia and eventually back to England and her unconventional life there.

e
ellidonna
Feb 08, 2014

I enjoyed the prose and development of characters in the historical part of the story. However, more could have been done on developing Frieda in the modern part of the book for the reader. Also, the ending was rather abrupt, making the book seem incomplete. It seemed like the author either ran out of time, or just wanted to be done with it.

What a disappointment. Three women set out for adventure and to convert the natives in Arabia. The older strident missionary is also a lesbian who seems to keep her female converts enthralled, even to their deaths. The Cyclist adopts a newborn when the 14y/o mother dies giving birth in the sand. This baby becomes Irene the grandmother of the modern protagonist, Frieda, who inherits Irene's council apartment and a live owl. Frieda finds her hippy mother to ask her about Irene, gets no satisfaction then seems to take off to live with a homeless Turkish artist stranded in UK. What a mishmash plot and a waste of good reading time. Frieda is poorly developed, we don't understand her motivations or her strength and in the end we don't care what happened to her. We have no idea how the old Irene got to England and why she had an owl for a pet. Reading this book is like wading through molasses and the ending is unsatisfactory for all that work.

n
Nilz
Feb 08, 2013

Linwood Library

a
azor
Dec 07, 2012

Bit of a let down. It seemed like it was going to be so good, but did not fulfill my expectations.

q
queensgirl1963
Aug 11, 2012

I did not finish this one. I found it hard to follow the two parallel stories. Don't bother with this one.

b
bridge1
Aug 04, 2012

Interesting concept but the story didn't live up to the hype. I didn't finish it.

StratfordLibrary Jul 26, 2012

Welcome to Kashgar, oasis on the edge of the Takla Makan desert, 1923. Adventurous Evangeline English has faked finding God so she can travel with missionaries and escape dreary Britain. While giving the appearance of working to save locals’ souls, she secretly drafts a women’s travel guide about cycling in far-flung places. However, regional cultural and religious tensions are exacerbated by the presence of the missionaries, and Eva soon finds herself fleeing for her life through the Takla Makan desert, an abandoned infant in tow.

Meanwhile, in present day London, England, Frieda has just returned from a work assignment in the Middle East to find a death notice for a relative she’s never known, named Irene Guy. A grown child of hippies who severed their roots when they moved to the commune, Frieda’s been content to lose her family as she builds a more stable, rational life for herself. But as she investigates her connection to Irene, Frieda’s forced to confront her past and her family history.
The two plots dovetail in spare, striking language to reveal a family left in tatters by casual experiments with colonialism, spirituality and love. It's a beautifully crafted story, sensually told, and deeply evocative of the places its characters inhabit. A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar is very highly recommended to anyone seeking a fast-paced summer read with substance, brains and style.

AnneDromeda Jul 23, 2012

Welcome to Kashgar, oasis on the edge of the Takla Makan desert, 1923. Adventurous Evangeline English has faked finding God so she can travel with missionaries and escape dreary Britain. While giving the appearance of working to save locals’ souls, she secretly drafts a women’s travel guide about cycling in far-flung places. However, regional cultural and religious tensions are exacerbated by the presence of the missionaries, and Eva soon finds herself fleeing for her life through the Takla Makan desert, an abandoned infant in tow. <br />

Meanwhile, in present day London, England, Frieda has just returned from a work assignment in the Middle East to find a death notice for a relative she’s never known, named Irene Guy. A grown child of hippies who severed their roots when they moved to the commune, Frieda’s been content to lose her family as she builds a more stable, rational life for herself. But as she investigates her connection to Irene, Frieda’s forced to confront her past and her family history. <br />

The two plots dovetail in spare, striking language to reveal a family left in tatters by casual experiments with colonialism, spirituality and love. It's a beautifully crafted story, sensually told, and deeply evocative of the places its characters inhabit. *A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar* is very highly recommended to anyone seeking a fast-paced summer read with substance, brains and style.<br />

m
maven
Jul 21, 2012

It just isn't a very well-written book. The premise is unique, but neither story -- from the past or modern day -- was made interesting by the author. So I quit before I got too far in.

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AnneDromeda Jul 23, 2012

Welcome to Kashgar, oasis on the edge of the Takla Makan desert, 1923. Adventurous Evangeline English has faked finding God so she can travel with missionaries and escape dreary Britain. While giving the appearance of working to save locals’ souls, she secretly drafts a women’s travel guide about cycling in far-flung places. However, regional cultural and religious tensions are exacerbated by the presence of the missionaries, and Eva soon finds herself fleeing for her life through the Takla Makan desert, an abandoned infant in tow. <br />

Meanwhile, in present day London, England, Frieda has just returned from a work assignment in the Middle East to find a death notice for a relative she’s never known, named Irene Guy. A grown child of hippies who severed their roots when they moved to the commune, Frieda’s been content to lose her family as she builds a more stable, rational life for herself. But as she investigates her connection to Irene, Frieda’s forced to confront her past and her family history. <br />

The two plots dovetail in spare, striking language to reveal a family left in tatters by casual experiments with colonialism, spirituality and love. It's a beautifully crafted story, sensually told, and deeply evocative of the places its characters inhabit. *A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar* is very highly recommended to anyone seeking a fast-paced summer read with substance, brains and style.<br />

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