A Female Aviator “Circling The Sun” In Africa


thCircling The Sun was written like a memoir of Beryl Markham, a woman who grew up in Kenya and was one of the first female aviators in the early 1900s. Just like McLain’s other book, The Paris Wife, this felt like an authentic depiction of Beryl. This was eloquently written with wording that vividly portrayed the beautiful landscape of Africa and took me on an exciting adventure with safaris, parties, horse racing, and into the lived of the indigenous people of the stunning continent. 

As a child, Beryl was a spunky hooligan who braved the African plains alone and fearlessly tackled the village boys. Even a lion attack couldn’t crush her wild spirit. I felt that I really understood Beryl as a youngster who struggled with her parent’s separation, but felt less connected to her as a young woman. The major problem with this story was that Beryl’s life was extremely depressing. Her marriages were loveless and even her love affair was unfulfilling. Those sad relationships took over the bulk of the novel, which made the novel somber. I had a hard time understanding her actions, which came across as emotionless and without too much motivation. Things happened without much build up, like when Beryl spontaneously decided she wanted to be a horse racer and then became a winning jockey quickly thereafter. I was most disappointed that the novel focused on Beryl as an aviator for approximately 15 pages.

The author has a knack for writing historical fiction, I just wish she would write about women who led slightly more fulfilling lives. I would still pick up a book by this author, although I don’t think I would recommend this one.

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