[[ download Best ]] Circling the SunAuthor Paula McLain – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk


The first time I read about Beryl Markham was in a short story collection, Almost Famous Women Stories That was really the first time I had ever even heard about her This book was nothing short of amazing The descriptions of Africa and Beryl s love for her native Kenya definitely shone throughout this novel.Her love for Denis, Fitch Hatton was heartbreaking.Her struggle not to conform, to be what others thought she should be led her to accomplish so much by the age of twenty eight, even though she went through many heartbreaks and start overs in the meantime Her determination and love for her horses and childhood friend, a Kenyan native, always pulled her through.McClain has found her place in literature, I can t imagine anyone else doing as well with the women of history as she does Her writing, her descriptions, her characterizations are amazing The amount of research that went into this novel is documented in the author s afterword A brilliant rendering of an amazing woman s life.ARC from publisher. I haven t given my rare 5 star rating to a book in a long time, but I am giving Circling the Sun 5 stars without any hesitation Paula McLain s fictionalization of the early part of Beryl Markham s life completely engrossed me I knew nothing about Beryl Markham before reading Circling the Sun, but as told by McLaim she is a fascinating woman who grew up very unconventionally in early 20th century Kenya as the white daughter of a horse ranch owner It is a great story and the depiction of Beryl is fabulous It is such a risky venture to write a fictional account of a real historical figure There is so much room for over romanticizing, for imposing contemporary sensibilities on the historical figure, or for mechanically drowning readers in too much historical detail I had some reservations about McLain s depiction of Hemingway s first wife Hadley Richardson in The Paris Wife, but hats off to MacLain for her depiction of Beryl Who knows if it s an accurate depiction, but Beryl felt real, multidimensional and although struggling against the norms grounded in her historical context And I felt right there in early 20th century colonial Kenya experiencing Beryl s sense of loss at her mother s departure when she was 5, her strong but not quite adequate relationship with her father, her bewilderment as a child bride and her ability to move on, her relationships with people who helped and hindered her in being so fiercely independent, her strong attachment to Kenya and nature, and her humour, strong sense of self and sexuality McLain does a great job depicting a world in which the options for women to live independently were close to nil, and the price Beryl paid over and over for trying to do so And while it s not the main focus of the book, I like the way MacLain handles the issue of colonialism it is not portrayed as a romantic backdrop it is shown as often ugly and the perverse playground of wealthy spoiled Europeans, and yet a true home to someone like Beryl who didn t really belong anywhere else Highly recommended to anyone who likes strong historical female figures and or an interest in 20th century colonial Africa Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy. The luscious writing of this novel will transport you to the dry rolling hills of Kenya and quench your thirst after a long drought It is an exquisite story of Beryl Markham who grew up on the plains of Africa to become a legendary 1st woman horse trainer and later, a pilot It s her path to self discovery through the disastrous relationships and love entanglements that define whom she became A wild and adventurous spirit, much like the horses she worked to tame I loved her character, her passion, her honesty and her courage Truly a time when such feminism was resisted and discouraged.I adore novels set in Africa and during this time period circa 1920 s and 30 s This is such a rich and captivating story that I will relish reading the next McLain novel 5 Thank you to goodreads and random house for an advanced reader s copy. Paula McLain s writing is so vivid and cinematic, I felt I was right in the story rather than reading it In this book, a fictional biography of Beryl Markham, I could play alongside Beryl and her young companions, be involved in training horses alongside Beryl, and fly the Atlantic from England to the East coast of North America I could adventure on safaris, rub elbows with royalty and experience the anguish and joys of love, marriages, and lovers I could feel a yearning for Africa, her vast spaces, Technicolor sunsets and stars that seemed like they wanted to perch on my shoulders.Beryl Markham led an extraordinary life and Paula McLain s writing captures it all, serving it with the flourish of a master chef This book is a beautiful banquet of descriptions and characters that are so real you can savour them on your tongue long after the banquet is over.This is a banquet you will not want to miss as it ignites all your senses and satisfies while leaving you wanting. Until I was about to read Circling the Sun , all I knew about Beryl Markham was of her record breaking voyage across the Atlantic, in 1936,.Her extraordinary accomplishment I m reminded that a person s accomplishments and character are not always of equal measure Beryl Markham was a complicated female during times when being a complicated female was complicated The storytelling is emotionally wrenching yet intellectually rigorous On one hand its clear Beryl is a independent female yet a couple of the choices she makes, had me wonder why did she second guess herself and make dependent choices There was a devastating situation in Beryl s life that if happened to me I don t think I could breathe just so sad I asked myself was Beryl a woman to admire Was she a woman I would have been friends with I ll tell you one thing, I m a little mad at the author Her book had me reading all night long And..now I want to know a little about this woman s character Talk about her with others anyway Darn this author for writing a captivating book Perfect Book Club pick Look at values friendships marriages failed marriages births abandonment dreams dreams at all costs family loyalty gossip secrets loss love freedom I fully enjoyed this gorgeously written page turning historical novel Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley Circling The Sun caught my eye with its beautiful cover, first and foremost I had this book for so long now, never got to it It was time.Oh the chain of events Or sometimes also called fate or destiny, right I first read about Beryl Markham inAlmost Famous WomenStories by Megan Mayhew Bergman Beryl Markham piqued my interest then, especially when this remarkable women wrote an autobiography,West With The Night, which had Ernst Hemingway glowing from head to toe.In 1925 Ernest Hemingway, in a letter to California restaurateur George Gutekunst, wroteDid you read Beryl Markham s book, West with the Night She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen But this girl, who is to my knowledge very unpleasant and we might even say a high grade bitch, can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers it really is a bloody wonderful bookAfter reading Circling The Sun a fictional biography of Beryl Markham born Clutterbuck , I understood why Hemingway did this This kind gentleman in part wanted to help a struggling independent woman to get on her feet However, the book did not stir too many pots in the 1940s, but changed Markham s final years when it was republished in the 1980s and hailed as the masterpiece Hemingway thought it to be She could enjoy the final years of her life in comfort.And what a life she lived in KenyaSoftness and helplessness got you nothing in this place Tears only emptied you outAbandoned by her mother as a young girl, growing up on a horse farm, getting married several times, and trying to make it on her own in a man s world, and in 1936, became the first woman to fly solo and nonstop from east to west across the Atlantic Britain s Amelia Earhart Although she was born a Brit, she was Kenyan in heart and soulI learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine And I learned to wander I learned what every dreaming child needs to know that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it These I learned at once But most things came harderBERYL MARKHAM, West with the NightWe must leave our mark on life while we have it in our powerKAREN BLIXEN Circling The Sun brought this unconventional woman s story alive in the most beautiful contemporary prose The author borrowed characters from Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, Karen Blixen, to populate Beryl s story and establish the connection between Karin Blixen and Beryl Denys Finch Hatton, Lord Delamere, Berkeley Cole, Karin Blixen and her husband baron van Blixen, and a few Not keen on a proper education, Beryl would ultimately be schooled by the men in her life instead.First it was her father who taught her everything she would ever need about horse training She would become the youngest licensed horse trainer, and first women in the world, at the age of eighteen.Her childhood friend, Kibii, a child of the Kikuyu tribe, taught her how to hunt, to understand the rules of nature, and to survive in the African bush He would remain her truest friend throughout her life.Denys Finch Hatton and Berkely Cole inspired her to read, and become the Schezerehade of her own life story Before Kenya was Kenya, Green Hills was alive and my father loved me I could jump as high as Kibii and walk through the forest without making a sound I could bring a warthog out of its hole by crinkling paper I could be eaten by a lion and live I could do anything, for I was in heaven still.Before Kenya was Kenya, I threw a spear and a rungu club I loved a horse with wings I never felt alone or small I was Lakwet. Their story evenings would result in her eloquent autbiography several years later.Tom Campbell Black taught her everything about flying, airplanes, machines, reading maps Denys Finch Hatton who was her lover, was also her mentor in conquering the skies The nostalgia of the tough but idyllic life on the African savannas are so vividly described in this book A fine balance was established between background and story A perfect balance to be exact.The author portrayed the private Beryl The person nobody really understood The one who hid her pain and disappoinments She captured the emotions and thoughts of a scared young girl, a gutsy young woman, and a pioneering survivor of a challenging life The book is written in the same spirit as Kuki Gallman s booksI Dreamed of AfricaANDAfrican NightsMany authors captured this magic of the African landscape Africa still has that allure, always will have it Circling The Sun also settles comfortably into the same nostalgia as Alexandra Fuller sCocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness , ANDDon t Let s Go to the Dogs Tonight , although the two authors experienced two different periods in colonial history However, the ambiance of the British settlers s often promiscuous lifestyle, with debauchery thrown into the social mix, and the almost vulgar exploitation of wildlife, mineral resources and African people, were lightly mimicked in this book Very lightly, compared to Doris Lessing who did not mince words in destroying the settlers delusional self importance and grandeur But in this book, the Brits s African lifestyle, away from England s rigid society, was still treated with understanding and even compassion They were spared A different view, but a wonderful read isThe Poisonwood Bibleby Barbara Kingsolver There s no comparison between the two books, of course It s just another excellent book which captures the soul of Africa very well It was a tough life, demanding great sacrifice and creativity to survive Like your quinine for malaria, Berkeley added A measure of good champagne helps, too I don t know what it is about Africa, but champagne is absolutely compulsory hereThis was an excellent read Now fate will take its course I will have to readWest With The Night by Beryl Markham herself Paula McClain says in her author s note From the moment I read even a few sentences, West with the Night took powerful hold of my imagination Beryl s descriptions of her African childhood, colonial Kenya in all its seasons, and her extraordinary adventures fairly leap off the page but striking to me is the spirit behind the words She had so much nerve and pluck, plunging fearlessly into vast gaps between the sexes, and at a time when such feats were nearly unthinkable I hadn t ever encountered anyone quite like her a woman who lived by her own code instead of society s, though that cost her much Who would have fit perfectly into Hemingway s muscular fiction, but she actually lived Beryl was undoubtedly complicated a riddle, a libertine, a maverick A sphinx. I rest my case I love Africa I love this book. This makes a great companion read with Beryl Markham s memoir West with the Night, which is about growing up on a horse farm in colonial Kenya in the early 20th century At age four, her mother left the family to return to England, and Markham grew up with a lot of self reliance, learning to do hard farm work and playing mostly with Masai tribal children She succeeded in becoming a successful racehorse trainer and later a bush pilot, the precursor for her achievement in the 30s as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic from east to west The wonderful vignettes about key points and epiphanies in her life in the memoir is well complemented by this linear narrative account of her story At first I was disappointed on how pale this version was when it covered the same events But it made up for it by filling in the blanks left by the memoir, and the fullness of her as an imagined person came alive for me as the novel spun her trajectory out in an emotionally engaging way not possible with the crafted and abstracted perspective of a retrospective autobiography Many may object to the enterprise of biographical fiction from the start What chutzpah a writer must have to try to create a simulacrum of a real person, to project their feelings and thoughts and make up dialog and actions for her and others in her life based on the slimmest of outlines Often in historical fiction, real people in history are just window dressing to enhance the reality of the fictional characters In other cases, history is being enacted as a play, and the portrayal of important figures as a center in the drama can represent a legitimate theory for how they came to contribute to significant events in history For such a golem to rise out of the pages as recognizably human, the author needs to take chances and contrive the blood and guts and the confusion and despair that real life is full of Often McLain seems too respectful of the real Markham to make up such elements, with believable lusts and rages and jealousies, and she comes off as bland That turned out to only be a first impression But after 100 pages or so that feeling went away of her character took flight for me Beneath that stoic and brave exterior and moderated expression, we can feel her passions and the sense of her foundation in the grace of understanding by three people, her father , the Masai Kibii Ruta as a man , and sometime lover Denys The achievement was less about creating the real Markham and about midwifing an imagination of how someone like her could emerge as a special product of this place and time, with seminal influences from family and friends How someone like her could acquire the capacity to meet and surmount the challenges she faced and become someone so ahead of her time as a woman not bound by the constraints of roles set for gender, class, and race In her play with the Masai children, she made a special friend with a boy Kibii, learned to compete and hunt with him using spears, and gained a respected identity and tribal name from his father Much later, as an adult drinking in a club in the village that was Nairobi, she could make a story of herself for others Before Kenya was Kenya, I threw a spear and a rungu club I loved a horse with wings I never felt alone or small I was Lakwet.Something in McLain s writing that really sings for me is her vision of how she came to see the tragedy of abandonment by her mother as an important wellspring for Markham s character Gradually it became harder to remember my mother s face, things she had said to me, days we had shared But there were many days ahead of me They spread out further than I could see or wish for, the way the plain did all the way to the broken bowl of Menengai, or to Kenya s hard blue peakIt was safer to keep looking forward to move my mother to the far edge of my mind where she couldn t hurt me any , or to imagine, when I did think of her, that her going had been necessary A kind of forging or honing, my essential test as Lakwet.I am huge fan of stories that capture how the place of one s origin shapes our identity The continuation of the cited passage, from early in the book, rises high on my pleasure meter This was certain I belonged on the farm and in the bush I was part of the thorn trees and the high jutting escarpment, the bruised looking hills thick with vegetation the deep folds between the hills, and the high corn like grasses I had come alive here, as if I d been given a second birth, and a truer one This was my home, and though one day it would all trickle through my fingers like so much red dust, for as long as childhood lasted it was a heaven fitted exactly to me A place I knew by heart The one place in the world I d been made for.Markham was unlucky in love When drought and impending bankruptcy forces her father to plan a move to Capetown, she makes the mistake of marrying an older man at age 17 as a ticket to staying in Kenya Unfortunately, he turned out to be a violent drunk She manages to break away and survive as a horse trainer She makes a valuable friend with Karen Blixen, a charismatic coffee plantation owner later known to the world through her book Out of Africa Her example as a married woman unafraid to have affairs gives her courage to try out her own forays of the heart while pressing for a divorce But her most persisting love was for a man she couldn t have, one Denys Finch Hatton, an adventurer and safari guide who also was the love of Karen s life The very qualities of a wild, independent spirit that they both loved made Denys as one who wasn t for having I hadn t loved him any perfectly and I understood that, fondly We had both tried for the sun, and had fallen, lurching to earth again, tasting melted wax and sorrow Denys wasn t hers, or mine He belonged to no one, and never had.Eventually she finds love with a different sort of man, a gentle and wealthy aristocrat from England who claims a desire to fulfill her ambitions to have her own horse farm in the land she calls home But on a visit home with her and their infant son, he changes his mind under the influence of his dominating snobby mother The scenes with her visiting her son, telling him stories of Africa and promising to show it all to him someday, were particularly moving for me.The transition to becoming an aviator comes late in the book The connection to riding dangerous unruly stallions is not hard to make Despite the experience of a number of friends dying in airplane crashes, she can t resist the opportunity of learning to fly from her friend Tom I loved McLain s account of her affinity for this new challenge and way of seeing the worldIt does seem like pure freedom, I told him If you can forget the risk, that is The fear never completely goes away It makes everything sharper Tom kept us up, tracing a wide circle over our valley towards Njoro to the east and Molo to the north The tipoff the wing was like a bright, silvery wand Watching it, I felt a whisper of hope and something like redemption It wasn t God I saw at this height, but my rift valley It stretched in every direction like a map of my own life Here were Karen s hills, the flat shimmer of Nakuru in the distance, the high ragged lip of the escarpment White bellied bird and red dust Everything I d lived through lay unfurled below me, every secret and scar where I d learned to hunt and jump and ride like the wind where I d been devoured a little by a good lion where arap Maini had stopped to point at a clover leaf shaped print in the drying mud, saying, Tell me what you see, Lakwet This valley was than my home It beat in me like the drum of my own heart.I have come to believe that fiction can often be true than non fiction What can we really know from all the poses and roles that people from real life leave behind in letters or memories of those around them After going through a couple of divorces, I ve learned clearly how people have to compose simplified stories to make sense of their own complicated lives Maybe this book doesn t help me know the real Beryl Markham, but I am happy with a potent version of someone very much like her The short version of her life as she ponders future challenges rings as true to me, or at least as a truth I would survive them the way I had long ago, when my mother boarded a train and became smoke The tribe had found me then, and given me my true name, but Lakwet was only a name after all I had forged her myself, out of brokenness, learning to love wildness instead of fearing it I thrive on the exhilaration of the hunt, charging headlong into the world even or especially when it hurt to do it.My thumbs had to go up from the homage McLain made to Beryl s memoir in her afterword The story is recounted how its publication in the 40 s made only a blip in readership and disappeared from common sight until republication in the 80 s McLain argues against accusations that Markham s husband, who was a ghostwriter, might have been the true author I also appreciated her acknowledgement of serious mysteries about her inner life, while at the same time expressing amazement of how much she got into channeling Beryl Beryl was undoubtedly complicated, a riddle, a libertine, a maverick A sphinx But strangely, when I was writing her character and pitching myself deeply into her world, she became knowable and familiar to me in some ways than Hadley Hemingway in my novel The Paris Wife The Hook I liked the writing in McLain s Paris Wife but not the subject After discussing it with my book group and meeting the author, I liked it better, but still the subject, anything to do with Hemmingway, was not for me Circling the Sun sounded much intriguing and I knew it was a better fit.The Line The publisher has requested that no quotes be used until the book is published late July I ll respect that and actually must, as you ll discover if you read the rest of my comments.The Sinker My sincere thanks to Ballantine Books for providing the e galley of Circling the Sun Procrastination found me 30 pages from the end when my copy expired Imagine my surprise when I stopped reading to watch a movie and came back to the book only to find that little box with the dreaded words, expired, or whatever it says A visit to Edelweiss, confirmed its demise My fault clearly but oh, did I mourn all my lost highlighting and notes, etc I had planned to document these the very next day, as I knew I was getting close to the possible pulling of the title Now, I ll just have to sum up my thoughts from what I remember and wait until the publication to read the ending I was hooked by Circling the Sun right from its first pages with Beryl now Markham getting ready for her transatlantic flight McLain immediately takes a detour here, leaving the famous flight for someone else to probe She moves us backward in time to Beryl s childhood in Kenya and her early abandonment by her mother Though her father is a presence the lack of the woman s touch allows Beryl to grow into her own shoes, resilient, independent, with a strong love for nature and the land After a few missteps, she becomes not only a horse trainer, but also owner and a woman with some tumultuous relationships with a variety of men The sweep of the story reminded me of Out of Africa and then I realized one of Beryl s triangular loves was Denys Finch Hatton who also was involved with Karen Blixen, who under the pseudonym of Isak Dinesen, wrote that stunning memoir I absolutely adored Circling the Sun It is well researched and like any good fiction based on fact, it will find me finally adding West With the Night to my TBR pile No matter that I didn t quite finish Circling the Sun I know a good book when I read one. Beryl Markham is a flawed character certainly , probably as flawed as the real person that this fictional autobiography is based on and as flawed as most of us , but I could not find a flaw in the way this story was told The writing from the first sentence describing her plane , the one she flew across the Atlantic , is mesmerizing and then moves to the unbelievable descriptions when she first arrived in Kenya as a little girl and in the days beyond simply beautiful writing I read an advanced copy and the publisher at the beginning requests that you not quote anything until comparing to the final version, so I won t But I really wish I could so I could give a little sense into how lush and descriptive the writing is that makes you feel as if you are standing there on that farm in Kenya , or can feel what Beryl is feeling and convince people that they should read this book.Abandoned as a young girl by her mother who leaves Beryl and her father to return to England, Beryl forms a bond with her father and begins a life long love affair with Kenya She becomes an amazing , independent woman , a horse trainer in a world dominated by men and later an aviatrix flying solo across the Atlantic Her independent spirit fostered by her aloneness as she ran wild as a child and which couldn t be tamed by school, by her father or her husbands is beautiful to see , I have to say Of course , the book s focus is Beryl, but there are many other fascinating people, many of whom are expats and the relationships they have to each other, many of which are extramarital Everybody seemed to be in love with someone other than their spouse And some men with multiple women as in the case of Denys Finch Hatton But that was life in this tight Kenyan community So many free spirited people or careless depending on your perspective It s heartbreaking at times but oh so uplifting at others You may not agree with everything Beryl did but what a life , what strength, what motivation to do what she wanted to do.If you loved Out of Africa, the book and or the movie, you will be enthralled You ll see the same beautiful and wild Kenya and meet again with Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hattan I wish I could do justice to the wonderful story telling and writing by Paula McLain The author notes that Markham wrote a memoir called West With the Night and I look forward to reading it.Thank you to Random House Publishing Group Ballantine and NetGalley. As A Young Girl, Beryl Markham Was Brought To Kenya From Britain By Parents Dreaming Of A New Life For Her Mother, The Dream Quickly Turned Sour, And She Returned Home Beryl Was Brought Up By Her Father, Who Switched Between Indulgence And Heavy Handed Authority, Allowing Her First To Run Wild On Their Farm, Then Incarcerating Her In The Classroom The Scourge Of Governesses And Serial Absconder From Boarding School, By The Age Of Sixteen Beryl Had Been Catapulted Into A Disastrous Marriage But It Was In Facing Up To This Reality That She Took Charge Of Her Own DestinyScandalizing High Society With Her Errant Behaviour, She Left Her Husband And Became The First Woman Ever To Hold A Professional Racehorse Trainer S Licence After Falling In With The Notoriously Hedonistic And Gin Soaked Happy Valley Set, Beryl Soon Became Embroiled In A Complex Love Triangle With The Writer Karen Blixen And Big Game Hunter Denys Finch Hatton Immortalized In Blixen S Memoir Out Of Africa It Was This Unhappy Affair Which Set Tragedy In Motion, While Awakening Beryl To Her Truest Self, And To Her Fate To Fly