Thursday, May 12, 2016

550 (2016 #16). Circling the Sun

by Paula McLain,
read by Katharine McEwan

Circling the Sun is historical fiction novelizing the early life of Beryl Markham, who - before I listened to this audiobook - I knew only as an early aviatrix.

The book's prologue and epilogue retell her famous flight on September 4, 1936, when she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west, against the prevailing winds.

In between, the book covers Beryl's early life - from her family's arrival from England to Kenya in 1904, when she was two, through the death of her soulmate, pilot and big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton, in 1931.  Shortly after his death, she obtained her pilot's license.

I didn't realize, until I read this book, what an interesting life Beryl had.  Her mother could not take living in Kenya (then a British colony), and abandoned Beryl and her father there when Beryl was only four.  Beryl grew up rather wild, playing with the native children, and followed in her horse trainer father's footsteps, becoming the first licensed female racehorse trainer in Kenya, at age 18.  She also wrote a memoir in 1942, West With the Night, which Ernest Hemingway described as “bloody wonderful.”  I'm eager to read that.

What I most enjoyed about this book, however, were Paula McLain's descriptions of Kenya.  Someone close to me is moving there at the end of this month, for at least a year, and I particularly enjoyed learning more about this beautiful country.  This book makes me want to go there too.  Katharine McEwan's British voice is perfect in the audiobook for Beryl Markham, who tells her story in first person.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[I obtained this electronic audiobook from Audible with a free 90-day trial membership.]

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