A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
A NovelBook - 2012
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.
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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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