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review 2016-08-23 05:29
Circling the Sun
Circling the Sun: A Novel - Paula McLain

I am lucky to live in a town with an amazing public library. Even more wonderful is the fact that each year our library hosts a luncheon that features a well-known, talented writer. This year, we met Paula McLain. I was already a fan. Having read one of her previous novels, The Paris Wife, I eagerly picked Circling the Sun from NetGalley. But then, I had second thoughts. Not about reading the book, but about when I would read it. I think this was my 14th luncheon, and I have learned a thing or two from them — most important that sometimes, authors provide information about the book that I would like to know before I read it; things that add to my reading experience, that give certain parts more meaning or depth. And so I waited.

 

McLain explained her personal story, and how she came, finally, to write about Beryl Markham. I had already read West with the Night, so I understood her initial attraction. Similarities in her childhood gave her a personal connection to the story, and I remembered this when I read the book myself.

 

This is a girl-power book for future (or current) flyers; that would nicely accompany others I’ve read this summer, including Gone to Soldiers, and The Flying Circus. It is an amazing story of courage and of reinvention, of love and loss and second chances. It is not a great story for motherhood, but Markham’s poor excuse for a mother probably helped shape her more by her absence than her presence. Markham was driven, in a time when women were not supposed to be. She lived her life by the rules that guided the men of her generation, and she held no regard for the notion of a woman’s proper place. She had a knack for making the impossible possible, and, despite some debilitating setbacks, she never gave up.

 

I shouldn’t have to say any more about this book. Just read it. You will not be disappointed.

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review 2015-08-03 15:56
Today Beryl would have been praised and considered a thoroughly modern woman!
Circling the Sun: A Novel - Paula McLain

Circling the Sun, Paula McLain, read by Katharine McEwan
This beautifully imagined and poignantly read work of historic fiction, about Beryl Markham, born in 1902, brings this remarkable woman to life . Written with a lyrical prose, representative of the way novels used to be, with beautifully constructed and descriptive sentences, the author utilizes a vocabulary that is perfectly expressive for the imagery desired.
Known perhaps too well for her promiscuity, Beryl Markham’s accomplishments and versatility faded to the background. She was indeed a self-made woman in a time when women were expected to know their place in the class oriented world of the British, and she often defied the rules. As a child, she was brought to Kenya, a place she grew to love and respect. It’s beauty is well described by the author. At the tender age of four, she was abandoned by her mom who was unable to withstand the hardships of life in Kenya. She returned to England, taking only her son, leaving her daughter, Beryl, behind. She remained with her father, was raised with local children and ran free for several years without the influence of a woman in her life. She grew up without the knowledge a young girl would have normally been taught, like the art of conversation and the art of maintaining a home. She, instead, was fiercely independent, very capable and not very feminine.
Beryl took from life what she wanted and although she often regretted her behavior, or at least in the novel she was given to some remorse for her many betrayals of others, she never did seem to learn from her mistakes. Too often, she repeated them, and while I found her to be a compelling person, willing and eager to take risks and blaze trails, I also found her to be immature. She did not seem to grow up, until at the tender age of about 30, tragedy struck her profoundly.
Beryl had several romantic interludes and several unhappy relationships. She had one true love but he was already taken. When she married, shortly before her 17th birthday, she had no idea what she was getting into, and only decided on marriage as a way out of her dilemma when her father told her their farm was failing, and he was moving to Cape Town. She was completely unprepared to be a wife, and although she tried to be a dutiful one, the marriage was difficult and she was soon unfaithful. I found it odd that someone so young and naive would have engaged in a love affair. I began to wonder about which part of the story was history and which was fiction. At any rate, when her husband discovered her infidelity, he eventually horrified and humiliated her by chastising her in public which served only to help spread her wanton reputation further. 
She married again, a few years later, into the world of class and wealth, but it too was unsuccessful. She eventually even married a third time. 
A talented woman of fierce spirit, Beryl achieved much in her life at a time when little opportunity presented itself to women. Her friends ranged from royalty to the local children she grew up with and played. She was nothing, if not versatile and open minded. She became the first woman to obtain a horse trainer’s license, which she accomplished before the age of 20. She became the first person and first woman to fly alone across the ocean from London to America, in 1936, when barely 35. She achieved some notoriety as a writer when her authorship was questioned. 
I thought at times that the book concentrated too heavily on her romantic interludes and unfaithful episodes, which tended to diminish her accomplishments and make her less likable, although the author did present her in a sympathetic light. 
The book begins in flight and ends in flight, and while It covers only about a decade in Beryl’s life, she accomplished more in that decade than many women do in a lifetime.

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review 2015-07-31 20:13
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Circling the Sun - Paula McLain

Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya by her British parents. But her mother could never settle there and left soon home with Beryl's older brother. Beryl was then brought up by her father who let her run free on the farm and no governesses or school could tame the wild Beryl and she was barely seventeen when she married for the first time.


Paula McLain has painted a vivid picture of this strong wild girl who grows up to be just a strong wild woman who defied the social norms for women at the time. She knew the writer Karen Blixen; both women loved Danys Finch Hatton. She was a great racehorse trainer and she loved to fly.


I enjoyed reading this book immensely. I love the movie Out of Africa and it was a great pleasure to read about Beryl Markham and get another insight on the lives of Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton and of course get an insight on Beryl herself. In many ways she just had a very tough life, abandon by her mother and later on her father and her two marriages that was portrait in the book were both disastrous. And, the love of her life was she sharing with another woman and their time together was cut short.


I had a hard time reading the ending because I knew how it would end for her and Denys. That's the negative thing about reading a book about real people. You know how it all will end. Also, it was a bit hard to read about her and Denys because in my mind he and Karen has always been a couple since the first time I saw Out of Africa. I loved Beryl and Denys together, but at the same time I felt that they were betraying Karen. It's tough sometimes to read books.

 

I received this copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review! Thank you!

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text 2015-07-31 11:01
Reading progress update: I've read 94%.
Circling the Sun - Paula McLain

Denys was most himself in wild places. Through a pair of smudgy field glasses, he could gauge a set of kudu horns, or the weight of still hanging ivory. He knew how to shoot anything, with no miscalculation, and could skin an animal so quickly and with such precision there was almost no blood in it. But he was just as keen not to shoot or kill, not if he didn’t have to, using his camera instead. Photography was a new idea then, and he believed it had the power to change hunting, the sporting idea of it. Hunters could have Africa without taking any of it away—without ruining it.

 

How I wish this could be true, that we would have learned by now. But then I think of Cecil the Lion. Sometimes I think humans will never learn until all that is wild and beautiful is gone.

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review 2015-07-28 15:51
Circling the Sun
Circling the Sun: A Novel - Paula McLain
ISBN:  9780345534187
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 7/28/2015
Format:  Hardcover
My Rating: 5 Stars 

 

A special thank you to Random House/Ballantine Book and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Love, the cover!

CIRCLING THE SUN by talented Paula McClain returns afterThe Paris Wife, with another sensational contemporary historical fiction of love and exotic adventures of Kenya, bringing characters to life, while blending fact and fiction.

Delivering an engrossing voice to ’20s aviator, Beryl Markham, a daring, and extraordinary woman of this exciting era! As much as Beryl loved horses, airplanes and affairs---she also had a deep love and affection for the land of Kenya, prominent throughout the novel.

Set in the 1920’s in Kenya, a stunning story of the beautiful, impetuous, and non-conformist, Beryl Markham, a British-born Kenyan aviator (one of the first bush pilots), an adventurer, racehorse trainer and author. During the pioneer days of aviation, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west in 1936, and the author of the memoirWest with the Night.

Born, into the Clutterbuck family in the village of Ashwell, in the county of Rutland, England, the daughter of Charles Baldwin, an accomplished horse trainer, and Clara Agnes, with an older brother Richard "Dickie".

When she was four years old, her father moved the family to Kenya, which was then colonial British East Africa. He purchased a farm in Njoro near the Great Rift Valley from, and worked for Hugh Cholmondeley. Although her mother disliked the isolation and promptly returned to England, Beryl stayed in Kenya with her father, where she spent an adventurous and rather wild childhood learning, playing, and hunting with the natives. On her family's farm, she developed a knowledge of and love for horses. As a young adult, she became the first licensed female horse trainer in Kenya.

Though marriages, tangled love affairs, complications, gossip, and scandal Markham continues to push boundaries. She befriended the Danish writer Karen Blixen during the years that Baroness Blixen was managing her family's coffee farm in the Ngong hills outside Nairobi. When Blixen's romantic connection with the hunter and pilot Denys Finch Hatton was winding down,Markham started her own affair with him.

I love strong women, with an eccentric flair; pushing boundaries—A trailblazer; complex, bold, rebellious and courageous heroine—with independence, passion, drive and turbulent love affairs! An engrossing story of an incredible woman who lived and triumphed over hardships and heart break, with gossip and scandal which surround her. Ultimately, a journey of self-discovery, a pioneer in primarily two male dominated fields.

McLain captivates you with a bold account and breathtaking views of Africa---bringing descriptive vivid settings and characters which jump off the page for a well-written and an absorbing read. (I adore books about books, and books about famous authors from former eras- fascinating and intriguing!)

Fans of the 1985 classic movie “Out of Africa” will enjoy the rivalry between Markham and author Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) over the affections of hunter Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford). If you have not read The Paris Wife,recommend, as well as CIRCLING THE SUN.

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Circling-the-Sun/cmoa/555a62920cf21fee139b53d2
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