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Promise the Night

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  231 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Immediately compelling and action-packed, this carefully researched work of historical fiction introduces young readers to the childhood of the famous yet elusive Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo from England to North America. As in her debut novel, Prisoners in the Palace, MacColl propels readers into a multilayered story with an unforgettable heroine and evoca ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published January 4th 2012 by Chronicle Books (first published November 2nd 2011)
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Newbery 2013
87th out of 113 books — 1,219 voters
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YA set in the 1910s
66th out of 85 books — 41 voters

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Community Reviews

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Tara Chevrestt
I thought this was a decent read though it is def aimed at an even younger crowd than I originally thought. It's not aimed at teenagers, but the 9 to 12 year olds. I don't normally read books aimed at kids that young, but I love women in aviation and wanted to learn more about Beryl Markham, the woman who crossed the Atlantic, East to West.

The novel chronicles Beryl's childhood in Africa, her forays into hunting with the native tribes, her rocky relationship with her father's mistress, her stubb
Ronald Roseborough
Sep 20, 2011 Ronald Roseborough rated it it was amazing
Promise The Night is an excellent blend of facts and story telling. It's one of those books you just enjoy reading. Beryl Markham, the famous aviatrix of the 1930's, is the central character. She shared the headlines of her day with such women pilots as Amelia Earhart. But, it is her formative years in British East Africa that are the main focus of this book. She was raised on a ranch by her British father, Captain Clutterback. When Beryl was very young, her mother left the wilds of Africa takin ...more
My review of Promise the Night first appeared in the November 2011 issue of Historical Novels Review:

Anyone who has ever read the gorgeous West with the Night by Beryl Markham may doubt the need for a young adult novel written about the aviatrix’s early life. Within a few pages of Michaela Maccoll’s new young adult novel, however, even the most skeptical should be persuaded. Promise the Night tells the story of the pre-teen, horse-loving, lion-hunting Beryl Clutterbuck, who became Beryl Markham,
Jan 15, 2012 Erica rated it it was amazing
Michaela MacColl has done it again. Promise the Night was an absolutely fabulous read that I just adored. I loved every page of this book, and am already beginning my wait for another great read from Michaela MacColl.

Promise the Night was such an interesting story. The story is told from Beryl's childhood, but in between each chapter is a short diary entry, interview, something like that from her adult life when she is a pilot. Both of these played off the other and it was just a lot of fun to r
Sep 21, 2011 Susanna rated it really liked it
Beryl Markham was one of the famous pilots of the golden age of aviation, even becoming the first pilot - male or female - to fly the East-to-West route across the Atlantic Ocean solo. Yet even before this amazing feat, Beryl led a remarkable life. Raised on a remote Kenyan ranch by her father, Beryl Markham grew up racing horses and living a life atypical for daughters of European settlers. She became best friends with a Nandi boy, Kibii, and grew up alongside him and his tribe, breaking both e ...more
This is a wonderful book. It is the story of aviator Beryl Markham's Kenyan childhood in the early 20th century interspersed with fictionalised interviews and diary extracts of her record breaking solo flight east to west across the Atlantic. The details of her friendship with Kibii, a Nandi boy, and her education into his tribe's customs, is cleverly used to demonstrate how these experiences helped her (along with her strong will and energy) to become firstly a successful racehorse trainer and ...more
I got this book free through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

This is an excellent story, full of all sorts of roaring African adventures that will keep 9-to-12s of both sexes enthralled. But there's more depth to the book than I would have thought: in addition to Beryl's tramping around the African forests like Tarzan, you see more subtle themes of growing up, and trying to get on with others different from you. Beryl would be a delightful heroine even if she didn't later become a famous
Courtney Schlenker
Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl is a historical novel about the childhood of Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo from England to North America. The story of Beryl’s historic voyage in 1936 starting when she was 10 years old growing up in current day Kenya, where she lived with her English father on a ranch. Her mother had abandoned them years before. Her childhood was filled with lots of adventures including going into the forest with Kibbi, a boy from a local tribe who becomes her ...more
Ok...I never saw OUT OF AFRICA, but I did read it...AFTER I read Beryl Markham's WEST WITH THE WIND. It was apparent that Hollywood preferred Karen Blixen...I preferred Beryl.

They were rivals in many ways, including for the affections of Denys aka Robert Redford...and Beryl hated to lose.

This YA fictionalized biography gives me another layer to a very complicated girl. Beryl was abandoned by her mother in British East Africa, left in the care of a loving, if distracted father, who let her run wi
Dec 09, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it
This book is about a woman named Beryl Clutterbuck who moved to Kenya as a very young child. She was left there with her father as her mother and brother moved back to England. A leopard injures her dog and she is on the hunt for this leopard and this inspires her to be a warrior. She is part of a tribe called Nandi. She ends up being the first person to fly a pal from west of Europe to America as one of her achievements in life.

The genre of this book is culture. The format is chapter book. The
Spencer Klein
Promise the Night is an incredible tale of a girl named Beryl Markham implanted in east Africa after her mother and brother leave her with her Father. Her Father owns a horse farm near an African tribe who Beryl soon makes friends with and spends time with one of the boys. They go on adventures together, like when they hunt down a leopard who had injured beryl’s dog. Beryl asks the boy’s father to train her to become a warrior for the tribe, but since she is white, she cannot become an official ...more
A Nelson
Aug 26, 2014 A Nelson rated it really liked it
1912-1936 British East Africa (Kenya)

Fascination story of a young Beryl Markham being raised by her horse breeder father in British East Africa. Her mother has abandoned them and she is largely left to her own devices until her father brings another woman, Emma, and her son, Arthur, into the home. Beryl later becomes the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic from East to West. There are snippets of that venture at the beginning of each chapter.

The cultural information about the local tribes a
Tillie Torpey
MacColl, M. (2012). Promise the Night. Chronicle Books.

Theme/Topic: The experience of a young British girl in Africa.

Critique (comments, observations, questions):
I really enjoyed learning about the Nandi people throughout this book, as well as the amazing experience of Beryl in her younger years, but as well as in her older years. One thing I didn’t like about the book was the ignorance or disrespect Beryl had towards the Nandi people and her family.

Various Teaching Ideas:
I would teach this i
Aug 23, 2016 Sherry rated it really liked it
I read this in conjunction with Paula McClain's novel about Beryl Markham, "Circling the Sun" and a children's book based on Markham's own words, "The Good Lion." Years ago I had read "West with the Night," Markham's own account of her barrier-breaking flight across the Atlantic, from west to east. Such a colorful and many-segmented life offers multiple aspects for story-telling. My book club had the assignment to read "Circling" and one other book by or about Markham. Great discussion. I am loo ...more
Apr 26, 2015 Rae rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I really liked the author's style and I found this book to be well written but I did not enjoy the story that much. Simply because it was the same thing over and over. Beryl doesn't listen, Beryl gets in trouble, Beryl blames everyone else, Beryl gets in trouble etc, etc. I found it to be a bit predictable and boring to be honest. The descriptions were wonderful and evoked lots of strong mental imagery which was wonderful, but I just could not connect with the characters as much as I wanted to. ...more
Zoe C
Apr 15, 2015 Zoe C added it
In the historical fiction novel, Promise The Night, the author Micheaela MacColl's main idea of the story was to never skepticize who you are and don't let anyone tell you who you are going to be. Beryl Clutterbuck Markham was a young women coming of age in a time not prepared for her life. Growing up the only daughter of a successful farmer and horse trainer, Beryl turned to the native Nandi people in her East African home to teach her discipline and survival. Every day was an adventure filled ...more
Sep 20, 2015 Mekdelawit rated it liked it
Promis he Night, by Michaela MacColl is about a girl living in Kenya, nearby the Nandi tribe and her name is Beryl. One morning, she wakes up to see a leopard in her hut, strangling her dog. The dog is fighting back, but it is not long before the Leopard picks up the dog in its mouth and drags it out of the hut into the forest. Beryl runs after it into the forest when she meets a young boy named Kibii. That is how her journey with the Nandi began. Beryl soon started to train with the Nandi so sh ...more
Alyse Erickson
Dec 08, 2015 Alyse Erickson rated it really liked it
Shelves: tl-307
This story is about a young girl named Beryl who has spent her life growing up between two complete opposite homes; the harsh savannas of Africa with her strict father, and the big bustling country of England. Beryl’s only true friend through out her life has been her mother’s dog who is named Buller, who was also unfortunately one night dragged out from her tent by an African leopard in the middle of the night and never returned. That was a fairly drastic part of the book and was very sad to me ...more
Mar 17, 2012 Pam rated it it was amazing
If you ever saw Out Of Africa you were introduced to Beryl Markam. She was the other woman called Felicity who "stole" Karen Blixen's lover Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford). I had no idea until much later when I discovered Beryl Markam via Ernest Hemingway.

How I found Beryl Markam:

"Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West with the Night? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer's log book. As it is,
I really enjoyed MacColl's first novel about young future queen Victoria so I was interested in her second outing, another historical fiction novel about a British heroine in vastly different circumstances. This time the heroine is famed aviatrix Beryl Markham, who grew up in British East Africa. I had never heard of her and entered the book with no idea what to expect.

I really liked the writing and the adventures. Beryl is not a shy, retiring young lady; she is bold and daring, not content to s
Galloping into the air much like the horses she later trained, Beryl Clutterbuck Markham was a young women coming of age in a time not prepared for her vivaciousness. Growing up the only daughter of a successful farmer and horse trainer, Beryl turned to the native Nandi people in her East African home to teach her discipline and survival. Every day was an adventure filled with lions, leopards, a “step-mother”, a governess and eventually school in the city. Beryl grew from each of her experiences ...more
Jun 01, 2012 Mary rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Margo Tanenbaum
This new historical fiction title is inspired by the life of aviatrix Beryl Markham, the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic from East to West (considered more challenging than flying East because of prevailing winds). Novelist Michaela Maccoll intersperses the story of Beryl's historic 1936 voyage with Beryl's life as a ten-year old growing up in what is now Kenya, where she lived with her English father on a horse ranch, her mother having abandoned them years before. Her life as ...more
Cindy Hudson
Jan 30, 2012 Cindy Hudson rated it really liked it
In the early 1900s a girl named Beryl Clutterbuck was growing up on a ranch in what was then British East Africa. With a mother who had returned to England when she was a baby and a father who had little time to spend on raising her, Beryl grew up wild and as resistant to taming as the land around her. Her best friend was a native boy, Kibii, and she wanted to train to be a Nandi warrior.

Beryl’s fierce sense of daring and adventure never left her, and she later went on to be Beryl Markham, the f
Oct 05, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it
Promise the Night was entirely different novel than I expected it to be. I expected a novel of a young girl growing up to become a famous aviator. However, while I did get a little of that, I also got something unexpected – an action/adventure novel set in the wild of Africa. There was a lot more adventure in Africa than there was about flight.

I was entirely caught up in the African adventure that marked Beryl’s early life. This was my first novel set here so I enjoyed seeing the different setti
Nov 15, 2013 Jess rated it really liked it
Absorbing. Well-paced and interesting, I liked this one. Easily recommended.

I understand why MacColl wanted to include the parts on her flight across the Atlantic. They are part of Meryl. However, they don't fit this book set during her youth. (This why I went with 4 stars, but I'd give it 4.5 if I could.) There is no connection between two. Each flight section removes the reader from Kenya, a delightful place to be immersed. I enjoyed being there and seeing things. It's been too long since I'v
Feb 21, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it
Beryl Markham grew up training race horses for her father in British East Africa, an experience that marked her for life and likely formed the independent, determined side of her personality. Sometimes she took risks and made mistakes that ended badly, but that risk-taking and independence will stand her in good stead once she takes to the skies and becomes the first person to fly alone from England to North America. The book begins in 1912 when Beryl is ten, allowed to do whatever she wishes, w ...more
Victoria Hill
Apr 02, 2013 Victoria Hill rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Beryl and her father Capitan Clutterbuck reside in East British Africa. Beryl is a young girl who is all too curious for a six year old in Nairobi, Kenya. Capitan Clutterbuck was an ex-military man who began to breed and race horses. The horse and mill farm was all Beryl knew and was her father’s best rider and trainer. Besides working on the farm Beryl spent a lot of time with the Nandi tribe in hopes to become a warrior; this is where she meets her best friend Kiibi who is also a toto with the ...more
Amanda Snow
Feb 22, 2012 Amanda Snow rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, 2012
Originally published at

Promise the Night is a fictionalized account of Beryl Markham's life growing up in British East Africa. She's incredibly headstrong, determined to do whatever the boys in the Nandi tribe are doing (including hunting lions), and has a tendency to disregard any sort of authority. Sounds like a typical tomboy, right? Markham definitely fits the role.

What begins as the story of a mischievous little girl blossoms into an inspirational adventure. At fir
Ali Hartlein
Dec 03, 2013 Ali Hartlein rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure
This story is about a young girl named Beryl who has spent her life growing up between two complete opposite homes; the harsh savannas of Africa with her strict father, and the big bustling country of England. Beryl’s only true friend through out her life has been her mother’s dog who is named Buller, who was also unfortunately one night dragged out from her tent by an African leopard in the middle of the night. With determination to rescue her only friend in her heart and mind, Beryl sets out o ...more
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Prisoners in the Palace is my debut novel. I like to create historical fiction that has a modern appeal to teens and adults.

Regency romance blends enjoyably with historical fiction, with a plucky heroine for each mode. (Kirkus)

This novel is full of historical detail, vivid settings, and richly drawn characters, and themes of friendship and romance give the story teen appeal. (Booklist)

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