Circling the Sun by Paula McLain book review

circling the sun

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, publisher Virago, is out today in ebook, hardcover and audio download format.

To buy links:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

As a young girl, Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya from Britain by parents dreaming of a new life. For her mother, the dream quickly turned sour, and she returned home; Beryl was brought up by her father, who switched between indulgence and heavy-handed authority, allowing her first to run wild on their farm, then incarcerating her in the classroom. The scourge of governesses and serial absconder from boarding school, by the age of sixteen Beryl had been catapulted into a disastrous marriage – but it was in facing up to this reality that she took charge of her own destiny. Scandalizing high society with her errant behaviour, she left her husband and became the first woman ever to hold a professional racehorse trainer’s licence. After falling in with the notoriously hedonistic and gin-soaked Happy Valley set, Beryl soon became embroiled in a complex love triangle with the writer Karen Blixen and big game-hunter Denys Finch Hatton (immortalized in Blixen’s memoir Out of Africa). It was this unhappy affair which set tragedy in motion, while awakening Beryl to her truest self, and to her fate: to fly.

vintage airplane

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain is a fictional story based on the real life of Beryl Markham.  It is a fascinating story on one young woman’s dream to break the mould and do and be whoever she wanted to be.

At a very early age Beryl first experienced heartache when her mother left her and Kenya to return home to England.  It wasn’t until many, many years later that Beryl would find out the truth from this heartache.  Beryl learn’t quickly from this brokenness and was a wild spirit living with her father on the farm in Kenya.  She moved around quite freely with the native villagers and built up a wonderful lasting friendship with a young boy from the village.  They learn’t how to be brave in the outbacks together and Beryl never once thought ‘no’ I can’t do this because I am a girl.  She was very stubborn and fought with her father many times.  However, when the family farm was failing and her father had to admit defeat Beryl agreed with her father to accept the marriage proposal from a neighbouring farmer.  She was only 16 and didn’t know how to love or be loved.

Another journey had begun for Beryl which brought more heartache for her.  Her strength was to be tested many times during her marriage.

During all this time from when Beryl was a young girl with her father on the farm Beryl’s love of horses grew.  She watched her father closely building the horses confidence up to become a great thoroughbred racehorse.  Beryl continued to work with horses on and off with various owners but she struggled to be recognised as an accomplished horse trainer due to her being a woman.

Beryl was a beautiful, brave, wild spirited woman in a man’s world.  She was reckless in life and controversy followed her wherever she went.  Her love life became battered and she only ever had one love but he wasn’t hers to love.

I loved discovering Africa with Beryl, it’s natural wonder, the culture surrounding it.  Paula McLain, the author, described the scenery beautifully, you could picture the sunset, the shadows in the night going about their daily business.  I was truly swept away in Beryl’s world of self discovery, her independence, her fire, her passion, her courage.  A wonderful awe inspiring story.  I am so pleased that Circling the Sun has been written so we can all discover and remember this remarkable woman … Beryl Markham wild spirited adventurer, horse trainer and first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1936.

I’d like to thank the publishers Virago, an imprint of Little Brown UK, for an arc in return for an honest review.  I am so grateful to have been given this arc as I wouldn’t have known or discovered Beryl’s amazing story without it.

An awe inspiring, beautiful tale not to be forgotten.  5/5*

To find out more about Paula McLain and her books please visit the following link:


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