Circling The Sun by Paula McLain

Circling The Sun by Paula McLainSo many people are going to pick up Circling The Sun by Paula McLain because they read and liked The Paris Wife by her. That’s fine, but there are so many more reasons why you should pick it up.

  1. Beryl Markham. Like you, I didn’t know who she was until I picked up this book. She is the most incredible woman. Constantly fighting the odds the be an independent woman in the inter-war years in colonial Kenya. Oh yeah, and she was the first female horse trainer and first person to fly across the Atlantic is a westward direction. I’m telling you, this woman is incredible.
  2. Horses. I thought this book was going to be about flying – it’s not! Beryl doesn’t even get in a plane until the book is almost done. Yeah, I was shocked too. It’s about her life with horses – training them and racing them.
  3. Romance. Beryl was not lucky in love. In fact she was a wreck. Her trainwreck relationships illustrate how hard love and marriage were in a time when a woman was there to serve her man (gag).

I don’t know what else I can say to convince you. Go read this now! I really and truly enjoyed it and learned so much.

Who would like this book? In recent years there have been a number of novels about women married to famous men. You’ve heard me complain about it before. Circling the Sun, on the other hand is not about a woman who stands by her man and supports him to victory. Instead it is about a woman who does all sorts on wonderful things on her own – and she divorces any husband who stands in her way! The novel also paints a fascinating picture of colonial Kenya (a favorite setting of mine) and the Happy Valley set. For more on that, I highly recommend The Bolter by Frances Osborne.

Thank you, as always, to my friends at Penguin RandomHouse Canada for sending me a copy of this book.


  1. I didn’t read The Paris Wife – mainly because I just haven’t cared at all, in any way, for any of these books about the Fitzgeralds, or the many wives of Hemingway….plus Jackie here at LH read The Paris Wife and didn’t have fond things to say – mainly because of Hemingway’s behaviour. Anyway, I do have Circling the Sun and will be picking it up soon. I have Beryl Markham’s book “West with the Night” too – I read that many moons ago though. I also just finished Villa America and really loved it – I think I just love whatever Klaussman writes but I like how she wrote about her characters, and it wasn’t a book all about the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway, even though they are heavily featured in it.

    Circling the Sun is also such a gorgeous book isn’t it?? That striking cover, the maps on the inside covers and the illustrated details before each section inside. Beautiful! I’m glad to read about a strong woman, and not one that simpers and whines because Hemingway isn’t paying attention to her. 🙂

  2. I, too was expecting a book about aviation! And – I was so pleasantly surprised when I got something entirely different. And – I never though about the juxtaposition of the wife living in the shadow of the husband (The Paris Wife) and the woman grabbing the world by the horns on her own terms (Circling the Sun)…but you’re so right and I love thinking about it that way!

  3. I was introduced to Beryl Markham by Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman late last year, and I NEED to read this book! You know I’m obsessed with books about bad-ass women 😉

  4. Great minds think alike- and publish their reviews on the same day! I’m with you on this one- it’s one of my favorite books of the summer, by far. I thought Beryl was fascinating and McLain’s portrayal so powerful.

    If you like Africa at that time you might like Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa. It’s some of the most beautiful prose I’ve veer read and while she was not brave in the same way as Markham was brave.

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