As I said last week, I'm greatly looking forward to having Suzanne Joinson here as a very welcome guest on Saturday (the 14th.) when she'll be answering my questions about her newly published novel A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar. We'll be talking about various aspects of the book and what lies behind them and touching on the writing process, too, and I hope you'll find our conversation interesting and illuminating.
I wanted to preface Saturday's post with a short piece about the book itself in order to prime the pump, and I'll quote the blurb from the cover of my proof to give you an idea of what it's about:
"A secret notebook. An unlikely inheritance. A collision of worlds." That really does encapsulate the two interwoven plot strands - three lady missionaries in the remote city of Kashgar, East Turkestan, in early 1923, and Frieda in present-day London. As Evangeline English travels the Silk Road with her sister Lizzie and the formidable Millicent, representative of the Missionary Order of the Steadfast Face, her plans to write "A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar" along the way are disrupted by a birth, a death, and revelations which cause her to question much about her life. Years later in London, Frieda encounters a Yemeni man adrift in the city, and his strange presence and the sudden knowledge that she is heir to a dead woman she has never heard of will eventually bring her closer to making peace with her past and finding a new future.
There's great strength in the writing here, it's very vivid and compelling, and once the reader has settled into the two starkly different worlds of the book, they'll be drawn on to keep turning the pages. The book's themes - about which we'll talk more anon - are beautifully played out, and Suzy's light touch where her material is concerned is assured and effective; she gets her pacing right, too, letting her tightly folded stories gradually unfurl in pleasing form and using some beautifully crafted lines to achieve this.
That's the novel in a nutshell, but please do come back on Saturday when I'll be in conversation with Suzy and we'll have the chance to say a lot more about it; meanwhile, you may like to follow her on the other stops of her current tour.