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Circling the Sun: A Novel

  • Language:English
  • Downloads:7120
  • Type:Epub+TxT+PDF+Mobi
  • Date:2017-01-20
  • Status:finish
  • Author:Paula McLain
  • Environment:PC/Android/iPhone/iPad/Kindle

Recent Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
(no spoilers) This first thing to remember about this book is that it is classified by its author as "historical fiction." I tried to keep this in mind while reading, but found it hard and distracting to try to figure out what was factual and what was not. Maybe not a great way to read this. I'm a big fan of Isak Dinesen's (Karen Blixen) writing and her story. I have read several books by her about her life and also Denys's. So I was naturally intrigued by this book since part of Beryl's life was intertwined with theirs. Beryl and Karen shared many personality traits and life experiences, with some glaring differences. In the movie portrayal of Karen's book, Out of Africa, Beryl makes a vague appearance in the character Felicity. Beryl Markham, was of course, a real, fascinating person and many of the events described in the book are true, just where that line gets blurred is hard to tell. Putting that aside, which I had to, I sincerely loved this book. It took a couple short reading sessions for it to get its hooks in me, but once it did, I stayed up all night to finish it.
I am in awe of both of these women for they were true pioneers in many ways. Although Beryl didn't have a choice of where she grew up, it's clear she wouldn't have chosen any place else. This novel focuses more on her personal life and less on her public persona. It begins with her as a young child and follows her to early adulthood. "Growing up wild" as she did, she didn't see boundaries where so many people, especially women, saw in early 1900's. She only saw challenges to be overcome with hard work and determination. I admire her spirit and her courage. Her love life was confused and often painful.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a novel of historical fiction, taking as its subject the life of Beryl Markham, an English woman who grew up and spent much of her time in British East Africa (Kenya). Ms. Markham was quite a free spirit and trailblazer, undertaking many activities (horse training and aviation) that were strictly the province of males at the time.

This novel is very simply written and largely unremarkable. In a move certainly meant to raise interest and boost sales, many of the characters overlap with those of Isek Dinesen’s Out of Africa. You’ll find Baroness Karen Blixen, Denis Finch-Hatton, Lord and Lady Delamere, Bror and Barkley playing prominent roles. Not being aware of the actual history of Ms. Markham, it is hard to tell how much artistic license is taken here, though I don’t doubt that the English ex-pat community in Kenya was a tight knit group.

Again, the writing is very pedestrian and the characters rather two dimensional. Having been to Kenya, it is a pleasure to relive the landscapes and cultures, but this book does little in my opinion to bring those things to life. Overlapping so much with Out of Africa is a double edged sword, because the writing in this case pales by comparison.

Markham was largely a horse trainer by birth (following in her father’s footsteps) and training. It is therefore inexcusable that the author would make some pretty basic errors in both terminology and practice when dealing with her profession. She repeatedly refers to Markham purchasing yearling and two year old “studs”. Studs are breeders. Prior to age four, male thoroughbreds are referred to as “colts”, thereafter “horses” until sent to the breeding shed, at which point they become “studs”. She refers to a yearling “stud” undergoing training.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Beryl Markham's glorious autobiography, "West With the Night," was so amazingly well-written that Ernest Hemmingway declared: "the b--ch writes circles around me." The biography titled "Straight on till Morning" offers even more details of Markham's adventurous life. So why read a fictionalization of a truly larger-than-life individual? Especially a fictionalization that turns Markham's life into an insipid romance novel? Please, people! Read her true story and skip this mess.
Format: Hardcover
Not sure why a writer ever feels the need to write a fictional account of a real person's life. Either do your research and write a full-bore biography or write a fictional account BASED on the real person's life and focus the story in whatever direction you chose. I would not have minded this book quite so much if it had been a novel of a fictional character in the same circumstances as Markham. I don't know what it accomplishes to put made-up thoughts into a real person's head, especially when the real person has left their own legacy in written word. Add my voice to those that say "skip this dreck and real "West with the Night" and "Straight on til Morning."
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lots and lots of meh...

I don't know what it is, but lately it seems like there have been a slew of historical fiction books put out that focus on a strong, historical woman, far ahead of her time and instead of focusing on her aspirations and on her accomplishments, these books are focused solely on her romantic relationships. Unfortunately, Circling the Sun was not the exception. It focused entirely too much on who Beryl bedded as opposed to the accomplishments that made her the woman she is.

The worst thing that can happen to me when reading is to finish reading the book and then immediately close it and think "Well, that was pointless." But that was the only thing I thought about Circling the Sun. It just meandered along at a sluggish pace without any hint of a journey in sight and on top of that, it was repetitive. In short, it was boring. I wasn't captivated by the plot (mainly because there wasn't one) nor any of the characters (seeing as how all they do is sleep with one another). The writing might have impressed me if I cared one whit about anything I was reading, but I didn't and so the writing that could be deemed as good was lost to dullness of it all.

Overall, I was highly unimpressed by Circling the Sun. If it would've focused more on Beryl's accomplishments, I might have liked it more. But instead, it focused on her romantic life, which wasn't all that interesting.

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