Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya from England as a child. Abandoned by her mother, she was raised by her father and the Kipsigi tribe. Growing up in such an environment, she became a strong-willed, unconventional woman, unafraid to tackle things thought unfit for a lady, becoming one of Africa’s first female horse trainers and a license pilot in an age when most women didn’t even drive. What Beryl had trouble with, though, was love. From a loveless marriage to a love triangle with the man married to her best friend, she drifted from one failed relationship to another. She did, however, find one love—one that freed her metaphorically as well as physically—flying.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain is a novelized account of Markham’s life from childhood until her first attempt to fly solo across the Atlantic. An amazing piece of historical fiction that brings her to life in ways that straight historical reporting would never be able to do. Meticulously researched, and obviously written with a great degree of passion, you’ll find yourself rooting for Markham as she faces one challenge after another.
This book explores an aspect of colonial Africa from the period before World War 1 to World War 2 that is not often found in historical fiction, or even nonfiction histories, and it is well worth the few hours it takes to read it.
I received this book as a gift—one of my better gifts this year. This one’s an easy five stars.