Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: "Circling the Sun" by Paula McClain

Today I'm pleased to share my latest review with you all. Circling the Sun is Paula McClain's follow up to her debut novel The Paris Wife. I will admit that I had a hard time getting into that one, but I'm a pretty open minded individual so when Circling the Sun popped up on my radar, I wanted to give it a shot. I'm so glad I did!

Circling the Sun focuses on Beryl Markham, a pioneering aviatrix who was British by birth, but raised in Kenya. McClain really captures the rugged atmosphere of the colony and Beryl eagerly embraces her hard scrabble life. She grows into an independent woman determined to live life adventurously, and sometimes scandalously. She is practically forced into marriage at a young age, but doesn't allow herself to be defined by it (much to her husband's chagrin). She ends up working for a friend of her father's while working to become a horse trainer. In fact, Beryl was the first female horse trainer in Kenya and built upon the success of her father's well known training abilities before going on to learn the art of flying. Of course she struggles against society's expectations along the way. Beryl eventually embarked on an affair with Denys Finch Hatton, who had been in a long term relationship with Baroness Karen Blixen, the authoress of Out of Africa.

Obligatory cute cat picture. They like to read too!
I find it fascinating to read about real life historical personages, especially when it is done well. Paula McClain does a fantastic job in her characterizations and the pacing was quicker (to me, anyways) than The Paris Wife.

As an interesting aside, Beryl published her own autobiography/memoir West with the Night. It was actually applauded by none other than Ernest Hemingway when it was published back in 1942.

The bottom line is if you love stories about the African colonists, independent women, or just a ripping good yarn, check out Circling the Sun. It will be available in July 2015.

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