Monday, October 12, 2015

Review: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Paris Wife, now returns with her keenly anticipated new novel, transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 28th 2015 by Ballantine Books
ebook - netgalley

I always love to read about lesser known women in history, ones that have left their mark but for one reason or another don't get the recognition that they deserved.  Such is the case with Beryl Markham.  

Beryl was a woman ahead of her time, living in Africa though British born and abandoned by her mother at a young age.  The book started out very nicely, I was grabbed right away, hearing about the plight of this young girl I instantly cared and felt for her.  Told from Beryl's point of view there were times that I would have liked to hear other voices as well, just to round out some of the scenes. 

The author has definitely shown the amount of research that went into this book.  It wasn't hard to visualize the settings, from the African wilderness to the customs and traditions of the land.  There were times in the middle of the book that I thought it dragged a little and other times I would have loved more details (like her experiences learning to fly). 

But all in all a nice read by an author I have recently discovered and will continue to be on the look out for future writings.

1 comment:

  1. Great review, Margaret. I had similar feelings about this book. Beautiful backdrop, an interesting and little known woman in history but some insight from other characters and a look into her flying would have been great.