by Suzanne Joinson
Published June 4th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 22nd 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.
Honestly, this was not my favorite book, but it was worth the listen. I was given this book as an audiobook ARC. This is the second audiobook ARC I was given to review, but the first one I am going to review. (The other was so terrible, I felt bad reviewing it, so I declined the review after only listening to about 15 minutes of it, if that.) Since this is an audiobook, and the written version has been reviewed a number of times, I will focus mainly on the audio part.
I thought the reader, Susan Duerden, had a nice voice to listen too, she has a nice accent. She didn’t mess up reading at all and left long enough pauses between the different time periods that after you caught on, you were not lost. FYI- you do need to pay a lot of attention to this book as it is being read to you since sometimes it can be confusing when time periods are switched. I do not listen to an audiobook straight through, I listen while cleaning, cooking, getting dressed, exercising, so I stop periodically and on a couple of occasions, I had to rewind to figure out what voice was speaking at the time. It was a very good recording otherwise and I am very well versed in audiobooks having listened to well over 400 over the last several years.
As with all of my reviews, I must inform you that this book has some tough scenes, including but not limited to a death scene and a lesbian scene. There is quite a bit of talk about and reference to gay sex. Sex in general is a common theme in this book, the modern day woman having had a long time affair with a married man w/ kids and she doesn’t seem to care about the fact that he has a family at all.
There are quite a few parts of this book that were quite disturbing. I would not recommend this book for teenagers at all, even though the cover looks fun. Some adults would enjoy this book, but not all. It is not a romance and it is not really chick lit either. It is most definitely not a mindless, fun, beach read.
I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist you in recognizing books that you might enjoy.