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Promise the Night [Kindle Edition]

Michaela MacColl
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Immediately compelling and action-packed, this carefully researched work of historical fiction introduces young readers to the childhood of the famous yet elusive Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo from England to North America. As in her debut novel, Prisoners in the Palace, MacColl propels readers into a multilayered story with an unforgettable heroine and evocative language that brings the backdrop of colonial British East Africa to life. A fascinating read for anyone with a thirst for adventure.

Editorial Reviews


"With action and a very plucky heroine, this book will appeal to young women and men alike." - Library Media Connection

"A compelling tale" - Scholastic Parent and Child

"Fascinating novel about a remarkable woman's childhood. ' - VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates

"Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction." - Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

"Maccoll vividly portrays her headstrong protagonist" - Booklist

"Unique historical novel about one tenacious girl." - School Library Journal, starred review

About the Author

Michaela MacColl studied multi-disciplinary history at Yale University, which turns out to be the perfect degree for writing historical fiction.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1071 KB
  • Print Length: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC (November 18, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006A5KNDI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,840 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Galloping into the air much like the horses she later trained, Beryl Clutterbuck Markham was a young women coming of age in a time not prepared for her vivaciousness. Growing up the only daughter of a successful farmer and horse trainer, Beryl turned to the native Nandi people in her East African home to teach her discipline and survival. Every day was an adventure filled with lions, leopards, a "step-mother", a governess and eventually school in the city. Beryl grew from each of her experiences to become a woman revered by many, but her youth was filled with not only skepticism but danger at every turn.

Generally speaking I'm not a huge reader of historical fiction, particularly fictional stories based in reality. What I've loved about book reviewing has been the opportunity to stretch myself and discover something I never knew existed or that I would not normally have given a second glance. Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl was one of those such books. Initially, the thought of a middle grade novel about a young girl growing up in Africa based on the true events of Beryl Clutterbuck Markham's life simply didn't grab me. What I've discovered though is that not only was I wrong, but that I would have missed out greatly on Michaela MacColl's writing had I passed this novel by.

Beryl was a young wild girl and were it not for her father's concern for her future well-being as well as that of the reputation of their family she may have grown up as one of the Nandi she so loved. Her adventures of lion hunting and leaping in the air above her own head were the things most young children only dream & read about. What was fascinating was Beryl's headstrong behavior with nearly everyone she came in contact with.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promise the Night January 11, 2012
This new historical fiction title is inspired by the life of aviatrix Beryl Markham, the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic from East to West (considered more challenging than flying East because of prevailing winds). Novelist Michaela Maccoll intersperses the story of Beryl's historic 1936 voyage with Beryl's life as a ten-year old growing up in what is now Kenya, where she lived with her English father on a horse ranch, her mother having abandoned them years before. Her life as a child is filled with endless adventures--attacks by leopards, forbidden treks into the forest with a boy from the local tribe, Kibbi, who becomes her friend and teaches her to wrestle and track and hunt animals. Indeed, she is virtually adopted by the native tribe who take her in as one of their own, allowing her to train to be a "warrior" despite her sex and accepting her as an honorary member of the Nandi tribe.

The novel jumps back and forth between the youthful Beryl's adventures both at home and later in boarding school and a variety of diary entries, fictitious press articles and interviews about her cross-Atlantic flight. I found the parts in Africa much more engaging and vivid than the snippets about her flight; the two themes don't really seem to be tied together, since we don't learn about the beginnings of her interests in flight in the sections in which Beryl is a child. However, Maccoll paints an appealing picture of an adventurous spirit who can't resist a dare, a girl who is more comfortable in boys' clothing and who longs to be a hunter of lions rather than a proper young English lady. It's a good choice for those looking for a colorful adventure story that could appeal to girls as well as boys.

Maccoll includes an author's note providing further details on the real Beryl's life as well as additional suggestions for further reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club. com January 30, 2012
In the early 1900s a girl named Beryl Clutterbuck was growing up on a ranch in what was then British East Africa. With a mother who had returned to England when she was a baby and a father who had little time to spend on raising her, Beryl grew up wild and as resistant to taming as the land around her. Her best friend was a native boy, Kibii, and she wanted to train to be a Nandi warrior.

Beryl's fierce sense of daring and adventure never left her, and she later went on to be Beryl Markham, the first pilot to fly solo from England to North America. Promise the Night is a new work of historical fiction by Michaela MacColl that weaves real life incidents from Beryl's pre-teen years with rich details of African life. The result is a fascinating portrait of a girl who is courageous, independent, unconventional, and not always likeable.

Promise the Night also paints a vivid picture of Africa during those times. White settlers came for the vast tracts of land they could buy for farming, ranching and other pursuits. Inevitably, there were conflicts with black natives who were looked down on for what were considered primitive ways.

Tales of lion hunts, leopard attacks, encounters with baboons and horse races are thrilling to read about, and don't be surprised if you find yourself alternately cheering for Beryl and appalled by her sometimes bristly nature. Promise the Night brings a part of her childhood to life while also interspersing notes from her solo trip across the Atlantic.

I first learned about Beryl Markham when I read her memoir, West With the Night. While I really like that book a lot, it's not accessible for younger readers. Promise the Night fills in that gap and introduces younger readers to this remarkable woman. I highly recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 to 13. I also believe boys will like this book equally as well as girls.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Wonderful retelling of many facts in Berle Cutterbucks life. Michaela uses her story writing ability to make this story interesting and fun.
Published 4 months ago by Laura Dale
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage and determination triumph
Today's middle schoolers often lack real world role models to challenge their character development. Read more
Published on May 4, 2013 by Linda Jett
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this book
I enjoyed the juxtaposition of scenes from Beryl Markham's childhood and her flight westward across the Atlantic. Read more
Published on January 7, 2013 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy read
I liked this book. It's rather entertaining,interesting and easy to read. This book will make you smile for sure.Very positive
Published on December 19, 2012 by Katia
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure
I loved this book. I bought it for my pre-teen girls and they loved it too. It was wonderful to be able to talk to my girls about the fact that this book was based on a true... Read more
Published on December 12, 2012 by Mona
4.0 out of 5 stars A spunky real-life heroine all girls can admire, along with lessons...
I got this book free through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

This is an excellent story, full of all sorts of roaring African adventures that will keep 9-to-12s... Read more
Published on August 21, 2012 by Meaghan
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Read
Beryl Markham was one of the famous pilots of the golden age of aviation, even becoming the first pilot - male or female - to fly the East-to-West route across the Atlantic Ocean... Read more
Published on February 25, 2012 by SusieBookworm (Susanna P)
5.0 out of 5 stars A Historical Fiction Masterpiece
Michaela MacColl has done it again. Promise the Night was an absolutely fabulous read that I just adored. Read more
Published on February 19, 2012 by Erica
5.0 out of 5 stars I Promise you'll enjoy it!
Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl is a fictionized account of Beryl Markham's childhood growing up in British East Africa. Read more
Published on February 10, 2012 by Lori Katz
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read for Teens and Tweens!
Books like this are why historical fiction is my absolute favorite genre. Starting out reading this book based on a real-life heroine, horse breaker and airplane pilot Beryl... Read more
Published on January 27, 2012 by Renee Chaw
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More About the Author

Michaela attended Vassar College and Yale University. She earned degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. What happened that helped them to be great? Michaela has two daughters so she's hoping to identify those moments firsthand. Her books include Prisoners in the Palace (2010) about a teenaged Victoria, on the verge of becoming Queen and Promise the Night (2011) about Beryl Markham's childhood in Africa. Her literary mysteries include Nobody's Secret (featuring Emily Dickinson) and Always Emily (with the Bronte sisters). She and her family live in Connecticut.

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