Hello Fellow Readers!
Years ago I was in a book club and we read West with the Night by Beryl Markham. It was a fabulous biography about a woman who grew up and lived in Africa. It was the book that made me think that women who made their way through life as pioneers and adventurers were probably not the women that you wanted to befriend but they certainly had an interesting view of the world.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain is the Beryl Markham story from a historical fiction perspective. The story begins when Beryl is a young girl and her mother leaves with her brother to go back to England because she did not like living in Africa. Beryl is left with her father and she is free to run around their property. On the face of it, she leads a great life for a child – free to run and learn on her own. In reality it probably needed to change so that she could fit into society. By the time that her father tries to reign her in, it was too late. Beryl did not really ever learn to fit into society or even understand it. She did what she wanted to do most of the time. This did include becoming the first female licensed horse trainer in Africa and becoming the first female licensed pilot. She was also the first woman to fly solo (east to west) from England to North America non-stop.
Money problems did plague Beryl throughout her life and she found herself destitute at various points. Her first marriage at 16 was so that she could stay in Kenya and that relationship took its toll on her due to her husband’s drinking issues. Life was not easy for Beryl but she sometimes did not make it easy on herself. She was friends with Karen Blixen, who was the author of Out of Africa (written under the pen name of Isak Dinesen), but didn’t hesitate to chase after the man Karen Blixen loved.
It is a lovely tale of an interesting life.
Paula McLain did not shy away from the questions in Beryl Markham’s life. One of the main questions was whether or not she actually wrote West With the Night. There are some that feel that her third husband, Raoul Schumacher, who was a Hollywood ghost writer actually authored the book. Interestingly, the book did not sell well when first released. It was re-issued years later and became a best seller. This allowed Beryl, who was 80 at the time, to live comfortably for the rest of her life.
Circling the Sun will be release July 28th and should be a great book for those lazy hot days of August.
Thanks for reading!