Monday, July 27, 2015

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Paula McLain's much anticipated novel about the adventuress Beryl Markham, Circling the Sun, is worth the wait. I knew a little bit about Beryl Markham's life as an aviatrix, but she was so much more than that. I've read several reviews of this historical novel that give a rundown of Markham's life and accomplishments, but I wanted to point out what made Circling the Sun unputdownable for me:

1. One of the main character's in this novel is Kenya, and McLain does such a wonderful job of portraying the beauty and mystery of Kenya of the 1920s and 1930s. She uses evocative and beautiful language to depict Kenya, and at times, I felt like I was there.

2. I loved reading about how Beryl Markham (1902-1986) had such an independent spirit, even from an early age. As a young girl, she ran wild and was practically raised by her best friend Kujii's tribe. While she had extraordinary life experiences, they didn't prepare Markham for adulthood and how to deal with the British ex-pats who lived in Kenya. Markham refused to adhere to the code that these rather eccentric Brits made for themselves and did things her own way. She paid a heavy price.

3. McLain does an excellent job in portraying the conflict that comes with Markham's association with Karen Blixen (a.k.a. Isak Dinisen) and another adventurer, Denys Finch Hatton. Hatton was already in a relationship with Blixen when he and Markham became lovers. Meanwhile, Markham and Blixen were friends. I loved the subtly of McLain's writing because often what wasn't said was just as important as what was being said.

Beryl Markham was a complex person, and McLain captures this complexity and tells the story from Markham's point of view in an absorbing and riveting way. I highly recommend Circling the Sun.

If you've read Circling the Sun, I'm interested to know what you think.

I was provided a galley of this novel by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


  1. I've been waiting for this one for what feels like a really long time. I love the cover and I'm excited to read about these particular characters. Think it comes from reading West With The Night many years ago and also watching Out Of Africa.

    1. Hi, Kay! Someone gave me West With the Night sometime in the 1980s. I still have the book on my shelf, but for some reason, I never got around to reading it. I plan to soon!

  2. My review comes out tomorrow.
    I was sorry the author doesn't do more with Markham's amazing flight. It frames the story, but should have been more of the story. I enjoyed the book, but felt it was a missed opportunity.

  3. Glad u enjoyed this Monica, I want to try it as well.