Book Review: Circling the Sun

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Circling the Sun

Paula McLain

Ballantine Books

366 pages

Ok, so I’ve found my niche. Paula McLain’s fiction based on historical characters. She just does it so right.

Beryl Markham grew up in the wilds of Kenya. She was a ruthless, spirited tomboy born at the turn of the 20th century. Her mother abandoned her at a young age, which greatly shaped the woman Beryl became. As she got older, she was able to cast off the expectations of society more so than most women to become a horse trainer and eventually a pilot.

If you’ve hear od Beryl Markham, it is probably because she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. However, Circling the Sun focuses very little on her life in aviation and instead is more of a coming of age story. Beryl was married numerous times, but her one true love (at least as far as the book goes) is Denys Finch Hatton. Denys is a man that cannot be tamed, yet he and Beryl have an undeniable chemistry.

I realize that this review is all over the place, but it is difficult to succinctly put forth the type of woman Beryl was and how she lived. I will just say that I read this book for two reasons. 1. I loved The Paris Wife. 2. I had the opportunity to see Paula McLain speak earlier in the month. I wanted to read the book before I saw her, which incidentally, didn’t happen because my kids were assholes that day. Anyway, I personally hadn’t heard of Beryl Markham and I wasn’t sure that growing up in Kenya was that interesting to me. It turns out, it was.

This was a gripping account and I loved the way McLain went about fictionalizing Beryl’s early life.

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