Title: A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar
Description: Eva and her sister are new missionaries to Kashgar, supervised by the nearly fanatical Millicent. Their very first act gets them put under house arrest and awaiting trial on murder charges. Meanwhile, Millicent’s not-so-subtle methods seem to be stirring up animosity among the natives. Running parallel to this story is the modern-day story of Frieda and her new friend Tayeb, an illegal immigrant. Frieda inherits the contents of a flat belonging to someone she has never heard of, and has a week to dispose of them before the housing authority comes in to clear things out.
Review source: ARC from netgalley
Plot: Both plots, the historical and the contemporary, kept my interest. Eva is writing The Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar; she has brought her bicycle with her on the missionary trip. Along with her pointers on cycling, she uses her notebook as a diary to record the events taking place in this country where they are nearly the only foreigners.
Characters: Both of the main female characters, Frieda and Eva, are well-drawn and likeable. The supporting characters are also interesting and believable.
Writing style: It can be tricky to write parallel stories; the author has to make each story interesting in its own right, and they have to move at about the same pace. From the beginning I was more interested in the historical portion of the novel, probably because it was so alien to my own experience. Aside from this bit of unevenness, though, I enjoyed the writing style.
Audience: I’d place this novel squarely between chick lit and literary fiction. I think both groups of readers would enjoy it; it would make a good book group read as well.
Wrap-up: The book’s running theme of religious belief and what it means to the individual as well as to the community was very well done and thought-provoking. I did find the ending to be not as strong as the rest of the book, though. 3.5/5*