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Circling the Sun: A Novel by [McLain, Paula]
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4.4 out of 5 stars 3,750 customer reviews

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Length: 363 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of July 2015: Sometimes a reader craves a good, old-fashioned yarn. This much anticipated novel from the author of The Paris Wife is exactly that: an engrossing story of love and adventure in colonial Africa, complete with gorgeous landscape, dissolute British ex-pats, and lots of derring-do with horses, motorcars and airplanes. That it is also the best kind of contemporary historical novel – the kind that teaches you something about the real people and events of the time – is a bonus. At the center of the novel is Beryl Markham (born – you gotta love it – Clutterbuck), the headstrong daughter of a British colonial who grew up more comfortable among the people and animals of her adopted Kenya than in the homes of its landed gentry. When Beryl’s mother leaves the family and her father gives up the farm, she marries (at 16) a gentleman farmer, a drunk too louche to be much of a husband. Like privileged but love-hungry teenage girls past and future, Beryl seeks companionship from her horses, becoming the first and greatest female horse trainer in the region. Along the way, she hobnobs with Kenyan high society, including, but not limited to, Karen Blixen (who authored her own epic story, Out of Africa, under the pen name Isaak Dinesen) and her lover Denys Finch Hatten (who will always be Robert Redford to those of us who watched him play the role in the movie version of Dinesen’s book.) Much bed-hopping and relationship-boundary-pushing ensue, with all the teeth-gnashing and yearning that goes along with it, no matter the era. Those who knew about Markham before reading this book may be surprised by how little there is about her as a pilot. She is, after all, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic from east to west, and she wrote her own memoir, 1942’s West with the Night; here, it is only in the book’s frame – a prologue and its final chapter – that we get a glimpse of the way that Beryl will, literally, soar. But McLain doesn’t seem interested in portraying her as a trailblazing feminist with an idea about changing the world; the Beryl Markham here is noteworthy precisely because she is NOT those things so much as a girl who grew up pushing back against conventions that got in her way. “But you’ve never been afraid of anything, have you?” Finch Hatten says to her in their last meeting. “I have, though,” she replies. “I’ve been terrified. . .I just haven’t let that stop me.” -- Sara Nelson


“Paula McLain is considered the new star of historical fiction, and for good reason. Fans of The Paris Wife will be captivated by Circling the Sun, which . . . is both beautifully written and utterly engrossing.”—Ann Patchett, Country Living
“Paula McLain cements herself as the writer of historical fictional memoir with Circling the Sun, giving vivid voice to Beryl Markham, a singular, extraordinary woman. In McLain’s confident hands, Markham crackles to life, and we readers truly understand what made a woman so far ahead of her time believe she had the power to soar.”—Jodi Picoult, author of Leaving Time
“Enchanting . . . A worthy heir to Dinesen, McLain will keep you from eating, sleeping, or checking your e-mail—though you might put these pages down just long enough to order airplane tickets to Nairobi. . . . What’s certain is that the reluctantly earthbound armchair reader will cherish this gift for the hidden adventurer in all of us. Like Africa as it’s so gorgeously depicted here, this novel will never let you go.”The Boston Globe
“As chronicled in Paula McLain’s richly textured new novel, Circling the Sun, Markham’s life is the stuff of legend. . . . McLain has created a voice that is lush and intricate to evoke a character who is enviably brave and independent.”—NPR
Circling the Sun chronicles Beryl’s divorce, remarriage, racetrack triumphs, family tragedies, early flying lessons and affairs with an ease that can almost make you forget it’s historical fiction. McLain succeeds in bringing the past to life, and by the last pages, readers will hate to say goodbye to such an irresistible narrator.”Miami Herald
“Famed aviator Beryl Markham is a novelist’s dream. . . . McLain riffs on the facts, creating a wonderful portrait of a complex woman who lived—defiantly—on her own terms.”People (book of the week)

“Paula McLain has such a gift for bringing characters to life. I loved discovering the singular Beryl Markham, with all her strengths and passions and complexities, a woman who persistently broke the rules, despite the personal cost. She’s a rebel in her own time, and a heroine for ours.”—Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You
“McLain’s eloquent evocation of Beryl’s daring life reminds us that independent women have always been among us, moving at their own speed.”O: The Oprah Magazine
The Paris Wife is good, but Circling the Sun is much better. . . . She was too much for her times, but in Circling the Sun [Beryl] Markham finally gets the treatment she deserves. That it also makes for bold, absorbing fiction is so much the better. No complaints here.”—New York Daily News
“Paula McLain brings Beryl to glorious life, portraying a woman with a great many flaws that seem to result from her zest for life and inability to follow the roles expected of women in the 1920s and ’30s.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Amelia Earhart gets all the airtime, but this pilot had the juicier past. Beryl Markham was a pioneering aviator—the first woman to journey from Europe to America solo—yet few young girls know her name. With her latest novel, based on true events, McLain author of the bestselling The Paris Wife, aims to change that. Beryl is one badass heroine. McLain crafts a story readers won’t soon forget.”Good Housekeeping
“With a sharp eye for detail and style to spare, Paula McLain captures the nuances of complex relationships, the rigidity of social conventions, and the wide skies and breathtaking vistas of Africa.”—Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train 
“If Beryl Markham hadn’t existed, a novelist would have had to invent her. . . . Beryl is free-spirited and headstrong; in McLain’s hands she is a prototypical independent woman, forging her own way in a man’s world. . . . Markham’s voice, expertly channeled, and McLain’s fluent prose keep the novel on course. . . . Circling the Sun soars.”Newsday
“Set in 1920s Kenya, this fictionalized history of the beautiful, high-flying aviator Beryl Markham is as luminous as its headstrong heroine. An exhilarating ride.”Family Circle

“Paula McLain is yet another twenty-first-century woman who can write rings around the hyper-masculine men who dominate so much of American fiction.”—Liz Smith
“McLain’s skill at blending fact and fiction, which dazzled readers in The Paris Wife, is on full display in Circling the Sun. Drawing on Markham’s memoir West with the Night and other historical sources, McLain paints a lushly colored portrait of 1920s Kenya. . . . In prose as luminous as the African skies, McLain charts Beryl’s journey of self-discovery: searching, stumbling, getting back up and eventually soaring. Heartbreaking and defiantly hopeful—like Beryl herself—Circling the Sun is a masterful story of hardship, courage and love.”Shelf Awareness

Product details

  • File Size: 8380 KB
  • Print Length: 363 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0812999320
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (July 28, 2015)
  • Publication Date: July 28, 2015
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00R04GCMY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,832 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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