A Glimpse of Beryl Markham: Background information when reading Circling the Sun

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Circling the Sun

A Novel

by Paula McLain

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain X
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2015, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2016, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

A Glimpse of Beryl Markham

This article relates to Circling the Sun

Print Review

Beryl MarkhamPaula McLain's new historical fiction, Circling the Sun is the story of Beryl Markham, an aviatrix whose incredible flight accomplishments took a back seat to the more famous Amelia Earhart. A number of books have tried to shine the light on this British daredevil who, in many ways, was ahead of her time – Straight on Till Morning by Mary Lovell, The Lives of Beryl Markham by Errol Trzebinski, and Markham's own book, West with the Night (which some say it was ghostwritten, a rumor that McLain says is both ridiculous and insulting) – and McLain's tribute does this too, highlighting the rebellious nature of Markham; her own brand of feminism that speaks both to why she stood out in her time and how she is relatable today.

A few facts about Beryl Markham, for those who know very little about her:

She was born on October 26, 1902 in England, but moved to Kenya (then British East Africa) with her family when she was four. Her mother moved back to England with her brother, and she stayed with her father on their farm. She was an adventurous child – a trait that only grew as she got older – and she spent much of her time exploring Kenya, hunting with her indigenous friends. She also developed a fondness and skill around horses, and ended up being the first licensed female horse trainer in Kenya.

Markham was also an adventurer in terms of personal relationships. She had many of them – three husbands and many more lovers – and it was only when she met Tom Campbell Black, a veteran of the Royal Air Force who won (with partner C.W.A. Scott) the London to Melbourne Centenary Air Race in 1934, that she wanted to settle down with one person.

Black inspired Markham's interest in flying. He had initially moved to Kenya to farm, but ended up establishing the country's first commercial air service. Black was Markham's flight instructor and in 1931 she became a licensed pilot. Markham worked as a bush pilot for a while, spotting game animals from the air for safaris going on below. Her most famous flight was on September 5, 1936 when she attempted to be the first person to fly from Europe to New York solo (the westbound journey is more challenging due to the prevailing winds). She had to crash land in Nova Scotia, Canada so missed out on the title of first person to New York but was the first woman to cross the Atlantic East to West solo.

Beryl Markham lived in America and England, but later returned to Kenya to live out the rest of her life. She died on August 3, 1986.

Beryl Markham, courtesy of Mu.

This "beyond the book article" relates to Circling the Sun. It originally ran in July 2015 and has been updated for the May 2016 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: An American Summer
    An American Summer
    by Alex Kotlowitz
    As a Chicagoan, I've become used to the most common reactions when I'm traveling and tell someone ...
  • Book Jacket: The Sun Is a Compass
    The Sun Is a Compass
    by Caroline Van Hemert
    Caroline Van Hemert fell in love with her future husband, Pat, in 2001, discovering they shared a ...
  • Book Jacket: Women Talking
    Women Talking
    by Miriam Toews
    Miriam Toews' Women Talking is a circadian novel, unfolding over a span of just a few hours and ...
  • Book Jacket: Confessions of an Innocent Man
    Confessions of an Innocent Man
    by David R. Dow
    It is circumstance that carries the wave that sweeps trendy Houston restaurateur Rafael Zhettah to ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Courting Mr. Lincoln
    by Louis Bayard

    A master storyteller at the height of his powers, delivers a page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    D-Day Girls
    by Sarah Rose

    The dramatic story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain's elite spy agency to help pave the way for Allied victory.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

A masterpiece of storytelling, and a 2018 Oprah's Book Club Selection.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Women Rowing North

The instant New York Times bestseller

A guide to wisdom, authenticity, and bliss for women as they age.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A B Penny A T U

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.