Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Book Review: 5 out of 5 star rating
This is a beautifully written novel about the life of Beryl Markham. What a fascinating person she was! She was a famous aviator (the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east and west and one of the first bush pilots), racehorse trainer (the first licensed female horse trainer in Kenya) and author (best known for “West with the Night”. She grew up in Kenya and as a child she spent most of her time with Kipsigis natives. She matured into a rebel with no rules or fear.
Most of the book takes place in the 1920’s. After reading more about Beryl when I finished this book, I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more about her career as an aviator or her famous flight. There was more about her horse training days. But that’s not a criticism of the book as I thought each part of her life, from childhood through her days as a horse trainer to her aviator experience and her marriages and love affairs, were all enthralling.
I hadn’t read much about the book before picking it up and kept thinking that parts of it felt so familiar. Then I realized that some of the characters were the same as in “Out of Africa”. Beryl was friends of Karen Blixin, who was the author of a memoir, “Out of Africa”, and Beryl became involved in a love triangle with Blixin and Denys Finch Hatton, a safari hunter. I saw the movie “Out of Africa” and loved it and now I also want to read the book. And I most definitely will read Beryl Markham’s book, “West with the Night”. Hemingway said that Beryl wrote so well that she made him ashamed of himself as a writer.
I loved every word of this book, from the poetically gorgeous descriptions of Africa to Beryl’s heart breaking love for Denys. The author has surpassed her first novel, “The Paris Wife”, which is quite an accomplishment since “The Paris Wife” is a beauty of a book, too.
This book was given to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.