by: Suzanne Joinson
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: General Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
This is one of the most enjoyable novels I have read in a long time. It tells two stories - Eva's and Freida's - in alternating chapters. This is among my favorite of narrative styles so I was greatly pleased. Also I loved the fact that Eva's story was told in a rather obscure location and time period - Western China in the 1920's.
Freida while in modern day London, still is exploring different cultures both in her personal in professional life. And that really is what I feel this story is about. Both parts of the story explore the differences in culture and if they could possibly mesh.
This was such a complex story all of the details which you think are irrelevant combine and are woven into a wonderful ending.
Only thing I would change if I could would be the occasional strong language. This is something which fairly conservative readers might want to be cautious about.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA for giving me a copy for review.