Vicky S. (Torrance, CA)
Lady Cyclist's Guide
I enjoyed the interplay of the two stories and timelines and I was surprised by how they connected but I didn't care very much about the characters. I set it down before a a weekend trip since I was nearly done with it and wanted a new book to take me through the weekend and then was not compelled to finish it when I returned. The variety of characters and the cultural differences though could make for interesting book club conversations.
Not what I was hoping for...
This fiction has a great premise "lady adventurers trekking through Asia." Its execution, however, left me cold. For me, I wish it had lived up to its marketing.
Intimately real and hauntingly shocking.
Vulgar and blunt, yet achingly rhymatic in a harmonious prose that seeps into your conscienceness. The text challenges your preconceptions of the literary world but dares you to connect to the stark harshness of the locale. A foreign world that blinks through your mind, flirting with your imagination, such as a film reel spun out of control. The brutal observations are written in such a lush descriptive narrative that words congeal together nearly at too fast of a pace. There is a disconnection in dichotomy between the lives of the protagonists and the interplay of the native land.
Five women, four of the past, one of the present, set off on a journey that none of them signed up to partake in. They are cast into an impossible sequence of circumstances that lead three of them to a journey towards personal enlightenment. It is these women who stand out to the unsuspecting reader as the main voices of the evolving story: Evangeline, Ai-Lien, and Frieda. You become a purveyor of their thoughts and emotions as one might discover whilst digging through a personal diary. Intimately real and hauntingly shocking. Their fragility and frailties split open and raw on the printed page.
Andrea S. (Lafayette, IN)
Not What I Thought
I read the description of this book and thought I might find it interesting. Upon reading it, I found it to be slow and uninteresting. It is what I would call literary fiction, a genre I don't always enjoy. The plot was interesting, but Suzanne Joinson's writing style slowed it down and I would often just want her to get on with it. I did finish the book, but I was never really involved with the characters. I just wanted to see how she would end it.
Jan B. (Tetonia, ID)
A LAdy Cyclist's guide to Kashgar
I love the idea of what the writer was creating with this story. Three women who leave London to become missionaries in Kashgar. Each of them with their own "agenda" as to why they were really going. I found some characters not very well developed, and the writing fairly bland, especially in the earlier part of the book. I also felt that the description of the different cultures were not fully realized, though the emotional intent was. It felt like this story is still in rough form, though with great potential if fleshed out more. I do like the counter story of modern day London, and the woman who gets left this estate with no idea of the connection to her. And the growing romance between the modern protagonist and an immigrant from Yemen was to me a delightful set of circumstance that unknowingly reverberated with her families past.
I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. It feels undone.
Elinor S. (Loudonville, NY)
A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
This book was interesting from the standpoint of life in Turkistan in the 1920's. The unrest was very realistically described as were the desert scenes. The main characters were strong women with stong survival skills. I would not recommend this as reading for any of my three book clubs as I felt all the characters could have been better developed. I felt I learned more about the places than the people.
Barbara L. (Glendale, CA)
A Bicycle Ride That Comes Full Circle
A quite interesting premise in "A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar" made it for me an enjoyable, engaging read. The birth of a child in far off Kashgar provides a rather unobtrusive underlying event that also manages to be a mysterious but unifying element tying together two separate but somehow related stories. All of the main characters in these two intertwined stories are off pursuing their unique interests and the "loves" of their individual lives. While I certainly was caught up in those lives, most of these individuals seemed not to be exactly who they "appeared" to be, and so I kept wanting and was left with a wish that there could have been much more "fleshing out" of those characters! Will look forward to other efforts by this author.