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Circling the Sun
Cover of Circling the Sun
Circling the Sun
Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Paris Wife, takes readers to Kenya in the 1920s, where the beautiful young horse trainer, adventurer and aviator Beryl Markham tells the story of her life among the glamorous and decadent circle of British expats living in colonial East Africa--and the complicated love triangle she shared with the white hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa.
Brought to Kenya as a small child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised both by her father--a racehorse trainer--and the native Kipsigis tribe on her father's land. Her unconventional upbringing transforms her into a daring young woman, with a love of all things wild, but everything she knows and trusts dissolves when her father's farm goes bankrupt. Reeling from the scandal and heartbreak, Beryl is catapulted into a disastrous marriage at the age of 16. Finally she makes the courageous decision to break free, forging her own path as a horse trainer and shocking high society in the process. The British colony has never seen a woman as determined and fiery as Beryl. Before long, she catches the eye of the fascinating and bohemian Happy Valley set, including writer Karen Blixen and her lover Denys Finch Hatton, who will later be immortalized in Blixen's memoir, Out of Africa. The three become embroiled in a complex triangle that changes the course of Beryl's life, setting tragedy in motion while awakening her to her truest self and her fate: to fly.
Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Paris Wife, takes readers to Kenya in the 1920s, where the beautiful young horse trainer, adventurer and aviator Beryl Markham tells the story of her life among the glamorous and decadent circle of British expats living in colonial East Africa--and the complicated love triangle she shared with the white hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa.
Brought to Kenya as a small child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised both by her father--a racehorse trainer--and the native Kipsigis tribe on her father's land. Her unconventional upbringing transforms her into a daring young woman, with a love of all things wild, but everything she knows and trusts dissolves when her father's farm goes bankrupt. Reeling from the scandal and heartbreak, Beryl is catapulted into a disastrous marriage at the age of 16. Finally she makes the courageous decision to break free, forging her own path as a horse trainer and shocking high society in the process. The British colony has never seen a woman as determined and fiery as Beryl. Before long, she catches the eye of the fascinating and bohemian Happy Valley set, including writer Karen Blixen and her lover Denys Finch Hatton, who will later be immortalized in Blixen's memoir, Out of Africa. The three become embroiled in a complex triangle that changes the course of Beryl's life, setting tragedy in motion while awakening her to her truest self and her fate: to fly.
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Awards-
About the Author-
  • PAULA McLAIN is the author of The Paris Wife, as well as two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan and has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Cleveland with her family.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 15, 2015
    McLain's (The Paris Wife) latest showcases her immersive command of setting and character, fictionalizing the exploits of real-life aviator and author Beryl Markham in British Kenya in the early 20th century. Beryl marries young when her father's fortunes fall, but is determined to strike out independently as a horse trainer, even though there are no female horse trainers and she's only in her late teens. She succeeds, though her marriage suffers, and finds herself drawn into a love triangle with famed hunter Denys Finch Hatton and writer Karen Blixen. While her successes in the horse-racing business increase, the scandal around her makes her flee to England for a while. Upon her return to Kenya, her need for freedom has further personal consequences, but also leaves her as the first professional female pilot in the world at a time when flying was exceptionally dangerous, and a record-setter for crossing the Atlantic. McLain paints an intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants. Markham's true life was incredibly adventurous, and it's easy for readers to identify with this woman who refused to be pigeonholed by her gender. Readers will enjoy taking in the rich world McLain has created.

  • Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time National Bestseller
    A New York Times Bestseller
    An Amazon Best Book of the Year

    A Kobo Best Book of 2015
    A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year
    An NPR Best Book of 2015
    Nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction

    "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 whose name we all know--and whose story we don't. . . . 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."
  • Boston Globe "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."
  • Allison Williams, actress on HBO's Girls, InStyle "Beautifully written. . . . An emotional vacation to a fascinating moment in world history."
  • NPR Books "Paula McLain has created a voice that is lush and intricate to evoke a character who is enviably brave and independent. . . . Soaring high over the Atlantic at the age of 28, [Beryl Markham] finally embraces the freedom she seeks when she learns to defy gravity."
  • The Independent (UK) "Vigorous, swift and spangled with spectacular imagery. . . . Intricate and ambitious, with a huge cast of characters and luscious descriptions."
  • Bustle "An insightful and engrossing read . . . Circling the Sun is a fascinating look inside colonial Kenya and is an even more impressive look at an overlooked but unforgettable figure from history, a woman who lived life on her own terms and a character who will stick in your head for a long time."
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Paula McLain brings Beryl [Markham] 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. . . . A sprawling novel."
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    Doubleday Canada
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