Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

I'm not really quite sure what to write about this book, I feel quite ambivalent about it.
It is a tale told in three strands. The first, which gives the title to the book, is that of Evangeline English, an English missionary to central Asia in the 1920s. The others are of two contemporary characters: Tayeb, an illegal immigrant from Yemen who is on the run from the authorities, and Frieda, unsettled product of hippy parents, summoned by the council to clear out the flat of a deceased woman she does not know. Inevitably Tayeb enters Frieda's life, and it turns out that Frieda is related to Evangeline.
It took me a long time to get in to, in fact I fell asleep trying to read it on the train more than once. Having said this, once I had gotten past a certain point I did start to find it interesting. I thought the sections in Kashgar with Evangeline were infinitely better than the modern sections, although I was disappointed by what happened with her in the end. I liked the descriptions of Kashgar and the surrounding area, and Millicent made a wonderfully creepy antagonist. I think the book would have been improved by dispensing  with the modern sections and expanding on Kashgar and the 1920s characters.
The connection between the two stories was weak, mainly because the main character's generations are quite far apart, and there were gaps in the story as you hear little about the inbetween generations.  It read to me a bit like the author had decided she was going to write about various things, and had pushed them together in one book. It ended up feeling disjointed, with nothing explored to my satisfaction.
I'm sure there were lots of layers and deeper meanings in the text that I missed, but I didn't care enough to work them out, which says it all really.

Book: A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
Author: Suzanne Joinston
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Score: 5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment