Book review: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

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  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 28, 2015)

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

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.

BUY THE BOOK HERE:    Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author_photoPaula McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of various foster homes for the next fourteen years. When she aged out of the system, she supported herself by working as a nurses aid in a convalescent hospital, a pizza delivery girl, an auto-plant worker, a cocktail waitress–before discovering she could (and very much wanted to) write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996.

She is the author of The Paris Wife, a New York Times and international bestseller, which has been published in thirty-four languages. The recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir,Like Family, Growing up in Other People’s Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.

REVIEW:

I almost felt like I needed to brush the dust off my clothes as I put down this book. The beautiful descriptions of Kenya and life in the bush and the spunkiness of a young girl raised on a horse ranch in the African countryside drew me into the storyline. The story piqued my curiosity about the true life story of Beryl Markham. I intend to read more about this incredible woman whose fierce independence and determination won her the title of first woman horse trainer and first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1936.

The characters were well-developed and although the storyline flew along through several decades, I was never confused.

A good read for those who love both history, romance and adventure.

2 thoughts on “Book review: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

    1. Hi Kathy,

      I found that there were so many different characters in this book that they needed proper development. Thanks so much for commenting! 😀

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