The bestselling author of Paris Wife, Paula McLain, returns with a breathtaking historical novel surrounding Beryl Markham. Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.
Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly. – Goodreads
A few summers ago, I remember diving into the Paris Wife and absolutely loving it. In fact, if I spent some time thinking about it, that novel would probably even make it on to my top ten list. So, you can imagine my anticipation when I finally picked up her next historical fiction work. I’m just going to say it now…this is hands down my favourite read of the entire summer. Great books such as these have the power to transport us, not only to other times and places like Circling the Sun indeed does, but deep inside the hearts and minds of extraordinary people – like Beryl Markham. And oh my, is she extraordinary!
Beryl Markham was a courageous woman whom I knew nothing about prior to reading this fictionalized account of her life. What may have struck me most was how quickly Beryl developed the resiliency and independence required to survive the life of a woman in a world ordered by man, beast and the unpredictable landscape itself. I felt nothing less than admiration for this woman as she forged her way, facing challenges I could not imagine! Does she make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. But we love her for it. She’s passionate, honest, adventurous and independent. A feminist in a time when so many boundaries existed. And so, I found myself enraptured in her path to self discovery through her disastrous relationships and love entanglements. Her story is riveting and beautifully told in the hands of McLain.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys historical fiction and strong female protagonists. If you have any interest in the beauty and ruggedness of Africa, then you will not be disappointed by the lush descriptions and beautiful language used by Paula McLain. Her writing is first-class. Here’s to hoping this amazing novelist will soon drop another inspired read into our laps!