Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is British author Suzanne Joinson, whose debut novel, A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, has just been published by Bloomsbury.
The book, which I reviewed yesterday, is a fascinating account of a trio of English missionaries — one of whom is writing a cycling guide for ladies — working in a Muslim-dominated region of China in 1923. It also features a dual narrative, set in present day London, in which a young woman learns she has inherited an apartment full of belongings, including a pet owl, from a stranger.
Suzanne, who works part-time for the the British Council organising international literature projects, has travelled widely — and it shows in her writing, which captures time, place and culture so eloquently.
Without further ado, here are Suzy’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
To read this book is to have your heart broken, so I don’t recommend that you undertake it lightly. It is the story of an orphan, who is subjected to adult cruelty, almost casually. It is subtle, brutal and ultimately about the fact that one is always, essentially, alone. I told you it would break your heart.
I’m cheating here because it’s a tie, and oddly they are both American childhood books: My Side of the Mountain and Harriet the Spy. I read these around the age of nine, I think. The first is about a boy who runs away from his cramped apartment in New York and goes to live in a tree in the Catskill Mountains. The second — again set in New York — is about a girl who writes observations in her notebook and tries to become a spy, only to have her notebook discovered by classmates who read everything she’s written. All the themes of my life — running away, claustrophobia of home, writing, bearing witness, getting lost and rediscovering home — are all in these two wonderful books.
Maybe this does have a wide audience, I’m not sure. But the last few people I mentioned it to looked at me blankly. Many people know H.D. as an Imagist Poet and the lover of Ezra Pound but disregard her novels. Intense, inward-focused, about her traumatic experiences during WW1 and detailing an intense love affair with DH Lawrence, it’s an inter-war Bloomsbury Modernist delight.
Thanks, Suzy, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
I have never read any of Elizabeth Bowen’s novels, although I have several in my pile, including The Death of the Heart, which I picked up super cheaply from my local Oxfam earlier this year. The two children’s books sound fab, and I’m intrigued by the HD novel — I would be one of the people responding with a blank look because I’ve never heard of it before.
What do you think of Suzy’s choices? Have you read any of these books?