Sunday, 24 July 2016
A LADY CYCLIST'S GUIDE TO KASHGAR
With a title such as this, and a cover to draw me in, I had to delve into this book. I had no idea where Kashgar was, but I was soon to discover that it was an 'oasis city', the westernmost city in China, once a stop on the Silk Road.
Fuelled by a long time curiousity re other cultures, I settled in for what promised to become an interesting adventure back in time. 1923 saw two sisters setting off for a mission in China. Lizzie was the zealous one, Eva went along for the ride, literally, and to escape what she deemed to be a dull existence.
Their arrival wasn't quite what they expected. They came across a young girl giving birth beneath a tree. Not surprisingly, there were complications.. the mother was about 10 years old, and despite the best efforts of the sisters, she died, though her baby girl survived, The authorities weren't interested in the baby, but blamed the foreigners for the girl's death and put them under house arrest, thankfully with the baby.. or who knows what her fate would have been.
From there, there were as many tangents as there are spokes in an average bicycle wheel. However, there are two main stories interwoven which overpower all, and despite many red herrings along the way, the reader doesn't discover the connection till almost the end of the book.
The understories are beautifully written, the descriptions delightful but not overpowering, and most of the characters are so well portrayed that you come to feel that you know them well, whether you want to or not.
It's a clash of cultures, of beliefs and personalities and while we aren't taken along on too many bike rides, we sure are taken deep into a world unfamiliar to many.
Suzanne Joinson has made her debut into the world of literature with engaging and encompassing style.