Circling the Sun by Paula McLain – Book Review

This novel is the fictional story of Beryl Markham, the first female licensed horse trainer in Kenya, and the first person to ever fly east to west from Africa across the Atlantic solo. McLain concerns herself with Beryl’s early life on her father’s ranch in Kenya; through her early relationships until the flight across the Atlantic.

If you are looking for any compassion or reflection on the treatment of Kenya and it’s inhabitants by the whites who settled there with the express purpose of taking everything they could get, you won’t find it in this book. However, if you want to understand the callous disregard for a country and it’s people, that is related in spades. The attitudes of the while settlers are reflected in their actions throughout this novel without becoming part of the narrative; however it is not reflected upon by a single character.

If it sounds like I didn’t like this novel that is not true. I really liked the portrayal of Beryl as a strong woman who lived the way that she wanted, conventions be damned. This novel introduced me to a real person who lived by her own rules at a time when women were expected to simply marry and live for their family. I am definitely going to go ahead and real Beryl Markham’s own book West with the Night as soon as I can get a copy of it.

I do recommend this book, as its main character is such a strong female role model. The book also brings up a lot of food for thought regarding the treatment of countries and people by invading outsiders. Making one think is always a good quality in a book.


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