Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar (Joinson)

Discussion Questions
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Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar:

1. Talk about the two main characters—Eva and Frieda. In what ways are they different from one another? Are there any similarities? How do both women use cycling? How does each attempt to achieve independence? Do you find one's story more interesting than the other's? If so, which one...and why?

2. How would you describe the relationship between the two sisters, Eva and Lizzie?

3. Talk about Millicent Frost—what do you think of her? Is she a committed Christian and missionary? Is she evil? A hypocrite?

4. What about Tayeb—what do you think of him as a character? What is the significance of the bird he draws on the wall? Do his reflections enhance the story for you...or do you find them a distraction from the main storyline?

5. Millicent is held accountable for the death of the young woman who died during child birth. Talk about Millicent's actions—should she have assisted the woman? Was there a better alternative? Today, laws for helping strangers vary according to country, state or province. In some jurisdictions, a person who is uncertified in first aid can be held legally liable if mistakes are made during an attempt to assist a stranger. In other jurisdictions, laws protect people, certified or not, from liability as long as they respond in a rational manner. Research the difference between "Good Samaritan" and "Duty to Rescue" laws. What do you think of the laws?

6. Why do you think the two stories are told through different points of view—Eva's in the first person and Frieda's in the third? What is gained by the double perspective? Could Eva's story have been told in the third person rather than through journal entries? Might we, for instance, have learned more about Millicent's and Lizzie's natures using a third-person narrator? Or does the journal provide more immediacy than a third-person narrator would?

7. Talk about the different forms that love and intimacy take in this novel. Are some forms more "legitimate" than others...or does this novel suggest that all forms of intimacy are legitimate? How do you see intimacy?

8. Talk about the different religions encountered in this novel. What is the book's attitude toward religion? Does the novel see religion as a positive force...a power used to control...or what? Is there a difference between religions and the way in which they are practiced? Does the novel validate one religion over another?

9. How do both Eva and Frieda attempt to make sense of their parents' actions and/or views of love? In what way does the novel suggest that we are destined to repeat the mistakes of our parents? Do you believe most of us are so destined?

10. At what point did you figure out the identity of the mysterious dead woman? What clues lay along the way?

11. Talk about Kashgar. How would you describe the city and its culture? Is Joinson's portrayal adequate? What all is going on within the city? Do you find similarities between the events in 1923 and events in the 21st century?

12. Talk about the connection between women cyclists and the development of more comfortable women's attire.

13. What about the ending of the novel? Was it satisfying...or disappointing?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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