Archive for April, 2022

Review: Circling The Sun

Sunday, April 3rd, 2022

Circling The Sun is fiction, but based fairly tightly on the life of famed aviator Beryl Markham. Basically none of the names have been changed to protect anyone and Paula McLain tells the whole story in the first person from Beryl’s perspective. The events are real, though I haven’t verified that she didn’t rearrange some for dramatic effect. The motivations and meanings are all speculative.

I’ve read Markham’s own memoir, West With The Night, and quite liked it. She’s a remarkable woman who led an nearly unbelievable life. She’s both one of the first woman bush pilots in Africa who set international records in aviation and one of the first women to train horses successfully in Africa. She’s one of the first, if not the first, women to be licensed in both of those areas. If that weren’t enough, she writes like a dream. I don’t know why you’d take his word for it over mine, but her book was praised by Ernest Hemmingway.

McLain does a fine job reproducing the feeling of Markham’s writing style, though McClain is writing about a different period of Markham’s life. This feels like the same writer to me, but not the same person. Elements of Markham’s style are there, but she’s not the same person yet. I was quite impressed.

The period in question is actually before she invested herself deeply in aviation, so if that’s the main lure for you, I suggest West With The Night instead. Other than that, I can’t think of a reason to stay away from Circling The Sun.

Strongly Recommended.