Play Book Tag discussion

Circling the Sun
This topic is about Circling the Sun
31 views
Archive: Other Books > Circling the Sun / Paula McLain - 3***

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Book Concierge (last edited Jun 15, 2016 01:31PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5999 comments Circling the Sun – Paula McLain
Book on CD performed by Katherine McEwan
3***

In September 1936 Beryl Markham became the first woman to fly solo East-to-West from Europe to North America. Paula McLain’s novel gives the reader the background of Markham’s childhood and young adulthood that led to that historic accomplishment.

I read and enjoyed McLain’s previous novel, The Paris Wife, about Hadley and Ernest Hemingway during their Paris years. McLain does extensive research into her subject and had a wealth of information on which to base this work of historical fiction. I appreciate how she paints the landscape of this part of Africa – the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feel of the place and the people in the early part of the 20th century.

Still, I struggle with giving the work a higher rating because I so disliked Beryl Markham. I’ve read other books where the main character is not likable, but where the writing elevated the work and I still liked and appreciated the novel (e.g. Olive Kitteridge or Lolita). That wasn’t the case here. Yes, I know she was damaged by her mother’s abandonment, and her father’s minimal attention. I understand how she basically raised herself, and was unable and/or unwilling to conform to society’s expectations. I recognize her intelligence, determination and tenacity. But the Beryl Markham in this book never seemed to learn anything from her mistakes. She careens from one bad situation to another, making many of the same mistakes again and again. She feels lonely and unloved, yet (view spoiler)

While the prologue and epilogue are about her historic flight across the Atlantic, McLain chose to focus the novel on Beryl’s childhood and young adulthood. The result is that the character is just becoming the woman we know about when the story ends. And I’m left feeling disappointed in both Beryl and the book.

Katherine McEwan does a fine job narrating the audio version. She has good pacing and is able to give the characters sufficiently unique voices that I had no trouble following the story.


Jennifer Pope (jenjunum) | 902 comments I rated it a bit higher than you, 4*i think. I agree The Paris Wife was better. I agree Beryl was unlikable. I love her descriptions, especially of the African landscape. I can still picture the scene in my mind and I read it in August. The ranch where her wealthy husband lived, the retreat where her lover's partner lived (I've forgotten the character's names!). It stuck with me and made me want to know more about her and colonial Africa.


Blueberry (blueberry1) I felt conflicted.... admiring her in West with the Night and disliking her so much inCircling the Sun because of her behavior.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5999 comments How strange ... I am SURE that I had added the "this book is about" information to include the link to the book in the title of this topic .. yet it's not there. Okay ... I'm adding it again .... Let's see if it "sticks" this time.


message 5: by Ladyslott (last edited Jun 23, 2016 09:10AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ladyslott | 1880 comments I loved both Circling the Sun and West With the Night. Of course Beryl Markham wrote West with the Night, so we can possibly assume she didn't choose to reveal all her flaws. I thought the two books worked well together.


Booknblues | 6179 comments Book Concierge wrote: "
Circling the Sun
– Paula McLain
Book on CD performed by Katherine McEwan
3***

In September 1936 Beryl Markham became the first woman to fly solo East-to-West from Europe to North America. Pa..."


I liked this so much more than the Paris Wife. I read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast prior to reading The Paris Wife...I didn't love the main character in that...I liked Beryl so much more... she had so much to overcome and I felt she made did tremendous things in her lifetime.


message 7: by Anita (last edited Jun 22, 2016 05:36AM) (new) - added it

Anita Pomerantz | 6541 comments I still want to try this one because I liked The Paris Wife so much, but now my expectations will be appropriately tempered!


Ladyslott | 1880 comments Anita wrote: "I still want to try this one because I liked The Paris Wife so much, but now my expectations will be appropriately tempered!"

I think you will like it more than you think. I listened to the audio read by Julie Harris and her reading was lovely.


message 9: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 8841 comments I adored Circling the Sun! The writing was beautiful and transporting. A pleasure!


back to top