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West with the Night

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  17,879 Ratings  ·  1,745 Reviews
West with the Night is the story of Beryl Markham--aviator, racehorse trainer, beauty--and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and '30s.
Paperback, 294 pages
Published January 1st 1983 by North Point Press (first published 1942)
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Tori Montes She had an affair with a Naval officer and left when Beryl was 5. She did return years later with Beryl's two half brothers after her husband died.…moreShe had an affair with a Naval officer and left when Beryl was 5. She did return years later with Beryl's two half brothers after her husband died. Never a close relationship if you can imagine(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ian
Jul 13, 2007 Ian rated it it was amazing
This letter from Ernest Hemingway to Maxwell Perkins in 1942 sums up the book better than I ever could:

"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, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished
...more
Diane
Apr 12, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir was so lovingly written that I'm going to have to reread it to fully appreciate it.

Beryl Markham was born in England but moved to Kenya with her family when she was 4. She has amazing stories about surviving a lion attack, becoming a bush pilot, training racehorses, and flying solo across the Atlantic -- and she flew the difficult way, from east to west, against the wind. She is my favorite kind of woman to read about: she's tough and adventurous, but also romantic and sentimental.

I
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Michael
I was very pleasantly surprised at the magical prose and window into worlds of East Africa provided by this memoir. Markham is an interesting historical figure for her achievements in aviation and adventuring. For example, she was the first female bush pilot in the continent, the first woman to complete an East-to-West nonstop crossing of the Atlantic (ending into a near-crash landing in Cape Breton), and a legendary race horse trainer. And she was a bit of a celebrity among the glitterati that ...more
Jennifer
Apr 05, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love strong women, those who love the written word
“To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told -- that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and the tyranny of clocks.”

You can be assured that this review will in no way be as well written as Beryl Markham's "West with t
...more
Sparrow
Nov 04, 2011 Sparrow rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Jeannette Walls
Beryl Markham is someone who you would want to meet and study, I think. This story is nuts, but at the same time, it lacks the pull of human relationships that generally carry me through a story. People obviously read for different reasons, but for me it is relationships that pull me through a story – not necessarily romantic relationships, you understand, but the way people interact. Will they be friends? Will they fall in love? Will they betray each other? There is none of that in this book, s ...more
Carol
4.5 Stars After reading Paula McLain's Circling The Sun I could not wait to read more about the adventurous life of Beryl Markham.

Growing up in Kenya, this amazing and fearless lady was not only a wild animal hunter, horse trainer and accomplished pilot, she was also a great story teller and writer (IMHO) as evidenced in West With The Night.

Skinning animals, running with the native hunting parties for wild boar, surviving a baboon attack in her room and a near death encounter with a lion are onl

...more
Hannah
Oct 30, 2012 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Embarrassment of Riches:
(noun; idiomatic) An abundance or overabundance of something; too much of a good thing.

The above perfectly encapsulates my experience of re-reading Beryl Markham's stunning memoir. The only caveat I'd make is that the last part of the definition makes it sound like a bad thing, when in reality the plethora of descriptive and evocative prose to be found within the 294 pages of this book are about as close to reading nirvana as a I am likely to find in my lifetime.

There ar
...more
Connie
"West with the Night" is the memoir of a woman who loved adventure. Beryl Markham spent most of her childhood in British East Africa (Kenya) where her father owned a horse farm. She grew up playing with the native African children, spending her time playing games and learning to hunt with the young boys rather than making friends with the native girls. As an adult she became a horse trainer and a pilot. Beryl Markham is most famous for being the first woman to pilot a plane from east to west acr ...more
BrokenTune
Dec 26, 2015 BrokenTune rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
"I stumble out of the plane and sink to my knees in muck and stand there foolishly staring, not at the lifeless land, but at my watch. Twenty-one hours and twenty-five minutes. Atlantic flight. Abingdon, England, to a nameless swamp – nonstop."

It is probably sacrilege to have read West with the Night and not to have loved it more.

To be fair, when I read the book I could hardly put it down. It was a charmingly written memoir of what must have been an extraordinarily interesting person. Beryl M
...more
Dianne
Aug 22, 2015 Dianne rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2015
This is the fourth book I've read on my Beryl Markham-related splurge, which started with Paula McLain's historical fiction "Circling the Sun," which is based on Beryl's life. "West With the Night" is Beryl's own memoir of her early life, told in chunks from childhood to her historic flight from Africa to Nova Scotia in 1936.

Really good - interesting and very well written. I admire her pluck more than I did before.

There is some controversy around this book, with some believing it was actually wr
...more
Sara Steger
Apr 19, 2016 Sara Steger rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
After reading Circling the Sun, I was anxious to read Beryl Markham's own account of her life, and it was well worth reading. What a remarkable woman, so fearless and capable and well-ahead of her time.

I am always taken by the way books set in Africa become somehow about the country in a way that transforms it into almost a character in itself. I certainly felt that from Markham, that Africa was more than a place to her, that it was a spirit, a soul. Her writing style is very tactile.

Hot night
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Diane Barnes
Mar 11, 2016 Diane Barnes rated it it was amazing
What a woman, what a story! Beryl Markham spent her life doing just as she pleased, damn society, damn propriety, damn it all. A childhood running free with the African natives, learning to hunt and survive; then becoming the first woman horse trainer in Kenya, and being successful; then learning to fly when aviation was in it's infancy, and making a living at it as one of the first women aviators. Not to mention being the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from East to West in 1936. T ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The order of some of the chapters is somewhat puzzling. I can only guess that she chose what she considered the most memorable events/periods in her life and wrote a chapter about each.
Some of the chapters were way more exciting than others. But overall the writing is quite impressive, considering she wasn't a professional writer. Things were so different in the time she wrote about! Everything was so new----automobiles, airplanes, telephones.

Beryl Markham grew up in British East Africa (now K
...more
Lisa Nelson
Apr 21, 2013 Lisa Nelson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and was putting off writing this review. I was unsure why, but then realized that somehow writing the review here is the final closing of the book for me. If I didn't write it down I could still hold on to the author Beryl Markham and her remarkable stories a little longer. Since this book I read another short book and am now well into another novel so I decided that with a heavy heart that I could finally put, "West with the Night" to sleep.

This book h
...more
Elizabeth
May 19, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Reading Markham is like a breath of fresh air. The world of training horses, Africa and airplanes is so deliciously foreign to me, I could have read 500 more pages. I found the writer to be undeniably feminine yet no-nonsense.

I would recommend this book to all my free spirited friends.
Mitticus
3.75



We swung over the hills and over the town and back again, and I saw how a man can be master of a craft, and how a craft can be master of an element. I saw the alchemy of perspective reduce my world, and all my other life, to grains in a cup. I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. And I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know — that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it. These I learned at once. But most things came
...more
Laura
May 03, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Lady Alice
Just arrived from UK through BM.

Page 135:
"When you flight, you get a feeling of possession that you couldn't have if you owned all of Africa. You feel that everything you see belongs to you - all the pieces are put together, and the whole is yours; not that you want it, but because, when you're alone in a plane, there's no one to hare it. It's there and it's yours. It makes you feel bigger than you are - closer to being something you've sensed you might be capable of, but never had the courage t
...more
Elizabeth
The following passage is an example of why I loved this book.

A messenger came from the farm with a story to tell. It was not a story that meant much as stories went in those days. It was about how the war progressed in German East Africa and about a tall young man who was killed in it.

I suppose he was no taller than most who were killed there and no better. It was an ordinary story, but Kibii and I, who knew him well, thought there was no story like it, or one as sad, and we think so now.

The yo
...more
Mayda
Feb 26, 2013 Mayda rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, adventure
I am sure that this book appealed to many readers, including the late Ernest Hemingway, but, alas, I am not in that number. I found that the writing, though descriptive, was disjointed and dated. I know Africa was a rough place in the 1930s, but surely there were some things she could have written about that did not involve hunting and killing and whipping horses to train them. I found it amazing that she knew in great detail exactly what her horse was thinking as he dealt with her as a young gi ...more
Ebookwormy
Mar 20, 2008 Ebookwormy rated it liked it
This book was a good read, and a good companion to Out of Africa. However, two things struck me as strange with this work. #1 I felt much as I did with Out of Africa that the author really wasn't telling me the entire story, and #2, I kept having to remind myself that the main character was a woman as, while eloquently written, it didn't seem I was reading a feminine perspective.

So.... as I did with Out of Africa, I checked out a biography and (thankfully) got a good one, Errol Trzebinski's "Th
...more
Judy
Apr 22, 2010 Judy rated it it was amazing
Now that I've read this book, I understand the enthusiasm for it. What more could you ask for than beautiful writing, a compelling story (true at that), daring exploits all by a spunky lady?
Lisa Ann ☯
"We are bound for a place thirty-six hundred miles from here — two thousand miles of it unbroken ocean. Most of the way it will be night. We are flying west with the night."

West with the Night is not only a memoir but could also be considered an action/adventure novel as readers get a rare glimpse into the experiences of a woman bush pilot during the 1930s. Although much of the book does focus on aviation, there are other stories interweaved throughout the book describing Beryl Markham's unconve
...more
Chris
Apr 16, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chris by: Jeanette, and Paula McClain


Several GR friends read this and enjoyed it, so when it was offer on sale for Kindle I picked it up. It got put to the head of the TBR list after I read Circling the Sun by Paula McClain. McClain wrote quite passionately about the brilliant writing in this memoir, and portrayed Markham as a very interesting woman.
McClain is correct when she writes that it is a shame that Markham’s memoir is far less well known and less read than her quasi rival Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa. While both women ar
...more
Lynn G.
West with the Night is a re-read for me. The first time that I read it, decades ago when it was reprinted after falling out of print for many years, I did not connect with the book in any meaningful way. I could barely remember any but the most general details.

This time around, however, I was more keenly interested in the story, the author's life in British East Africa (now Kenya), the unconventional aspects of that life, and her becoming one of only a few aviatrixes.

Nevertheless my overall rat
...more
Dick Reynolds
Jul 01, 2015 Dick Reynolds rated it it was amazing
Born Beryl Clutterbuck in 1902, she moved from England to Kenya with her father when she was just a girl of five. She went on a hunt for warthogs when she was a young girl and her faithful dog Buller was gored by the hog but survived to live several more years. Beryl was rather fearless and the Kenyan natives called her “Beru” because it was easier to pronounce.
As a teen, she was fascinated with horses. Along with two native helpers, she delivered a colt from a pregnant mare. She named him Peg
...more
Eric_W
Dec 03, 2008 Eric_W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beryl Markham was an extraordinary lady. She could train race horses to perfection, track lions and elephants, and speak Swahili with the natives. She was the first person to fly the Atlantic solo westbound. She was also an extraordinary writer.
Her autobiography, West With The Night is one of the best books I have listened to in a long time. The cassette version is ably read by Julie Harris. Several of the passages were so striking that we listened to them more than once. I particularly like th
...more
William1
Naturally, when it comes to 1930s African memoirs we first think of the Baroness von Blixen-Finecke's Out of Africa and her stories. Both women have created exceptional works and the one by Beryl Markham (or is it by her husband Raoul Schumacher?) stands the comparison very well. In fact, at least in this work, she seems the writer with the sharper, leaner diction. She also possesses a sense of humor you will never find in such abundance in Dinesen, who works from a far darker palette. Markham's ...more
Elizabeth
Apr 19, 2011 Elizabeth added it
Shelves: flying
Someone in our book group commented, "This makes me feel like I live such a boring life." Also, it makes me feel like I don't work nearly hard enough.

I remember my college roommate carrying this book around in the mid-1980s when she was taking flying lessons, and I was intrigued by it, but I have never read it. 25 years later, having seen Mombasa and Voi and the Rift Valley myself from the cockpit of a small plane, with a pilot's license in hand and several books about Africa behind me, having r
...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 09, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 review to follow.
Joje
Nov 03, 2012 Joje rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fine read for the heroine and her adventurous life, and in general I do appreciate her style and the choice of internal depth throughout. Let me say as much at the start.

I must say that about half way through I began to have mixed feelings, like Jeanette, about the style, especially about the long elegiac passages that often worked but sometimes did not, at least not for me. I was not hampered then by the feeling of what happens next, quite the contrary, but rather by the creeping ove
...more
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Born in England, Beryl (Clutterbuck) Markham moved to a farm near the Great Rift Valley in Kenya (then British East Africa) with her family when she was four years old. She spent an adventurous childhood among native Africans and became the first licensed female horse trainer in Kenya.

She continued to be a non-conformist and trailblazer in both her professional and personal lives, marrying several
...more
More about Beryl Markham...

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“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.” 1354 likes
“There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. There is the silence that comes with morning in a forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, or from anything that has answered to the need of a man, for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay. Whatever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo.” 254 likes
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