Circling the Sun Book Summary - Circling the Sun Book explained in key points

Circling the Sun summary

Brief summary

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain is a captivating historical fiction novel that follows the extraordinary life of aviator Beryl Markham. Set in 1920s colonial Kenya, it is a tale of adventure, love, and the pursuit of freedom.

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    Circling the Sun
    Summary of key ideas

    Exploring the Life of Beryl Markham

    In Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, we are introduced to Beryl Markham, a woman who defied societal norms and expectations in 1920s Kenya. The story begins with Beryl's unconventional childhood, growing up on her father's horse farm after her mother and brother leave for England. Her father, a horse trainer, instills in her a love for the animals and the land, and she becomes an accomplished horse trainer herself.

    As Beryl grows older, she marries a man named Jock, but their marriage is strained due to her independent spirit and his infidelity. After a series of personal tragedies, including the loss of her father and the farm, Beryl is left to fend for herself. She takes up horse training as a profession and becomes the first woman in Kenya to receive a horse trainer's license.

    Adventures in Aviation

    Despite her success in horse training, Beryl is drawn to aviation. She takes up flying lessons and becomes the first woman in Africa to earn a commercial pilot's license. Her passion for flying leads her to take on dangerous assignments, such as delivering mail and supplies to remote areas. During one of these flights, she crashes in the desert but miraculously survives.

    As Beryl's reputation as a skilled pilot grows, she catches the attention of the British aristocrat, Denys Finch Hatton, and the Danish author, Karen Blixen. She becomes involved in a complicated love triangle with the two, and her relationship with Denys becomes a significant part of her life. However, their romance is cut short when Denys dies in a plane crash.

    Writing West with the Night

    After Denys's death, Beryl struggles with grief and financial difficulties. She decides to write her memoir, West with the Night, which chronicles her extraordinary life. The book is well-received, and it brings her some financial stability. However, Beryl's later years are marked by loneliness and financial struggles.

    In the end, Circling the Sun paints a vivid portrait of a woman who defied societal expectations and lived life on her own terms. Beryl Markham's story is one of resilience, independence, and a relentless pursuit of freedom. Despite the challenges she faced, she remained unapologetically herself, leaving a lasting legacy as a pioneer in both aviation and literature.

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    What is Circling the Sun about?

    Circling the Sun by Paula McLain is a captivating historical fiction novel that tells the remarkable story of Beryl Markham, a fearless and independent woman who defied societal expectations in 1920s colonial Kenya. McLain beautifully portrays Markham's love for adventure, her passion for flying, and her complicated relationships, making it a compelling read that will transport you to another time and place.

    Circling the Sun Review

    Circling the Sun (2015) follows the remarkable life of Beryl Markham, a fearless woman breaking boundaries in 1920s colonial Kenya. Here's why this book is a captivating read:

    • Exploring themes of courage and independence, it showcases the inspiring journey of a woman unapologetically living on her terms.
    • Through vivid descriptions of the African landscape and tribulations of a female aviator, the book immerses readers in a world of adventure and resilience.
    • Markham's fascinating life story offers a blend of love, loss, and self-discovery, ensuring that boredom is never a possibility while reading this compelling narrative.

    Who should read Circling the Sun?

    • Readers who enjoy historical fiction set in exotic locations
    • Anyone interested in inspiring stories of strong and independent women
    • People who appreciate richly detailed character development and atmospheric writing

    About the Author

    Paula McLain is an American author known for her captivating historical fiction. She has written several novels, including The Paris Wife, which explores the life of Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway. McLain's book Circling the Sun tells the remarkable story of Beryl Markham, a record-breaking aviator and adventurer. With her immersive storytelling and meticulous research, McLain brings to life the fascinating characters and settings of the past.

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    Circling the Sun FAQs 

    What is the main message of Circling the Sun?

    The main message of Circling the Sun revolves around independence, love, and chasing one's dreams.

    How long does it take to read Circling the Sun?

    Reading Circling the Sun takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in about 15 minutes.

    Is Circling the Sun a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Circling the Sun is captivating with its adventurous spirit and strong female protagonist, making it a compelling read.

    Who is the author of Circling the Sun?

    The author of Circling the Sun is Paula McLain.

    What to read after Circling the Sun?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Circling the Sun, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
    • The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by Jose Saramago
    • Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee
    • The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
    • One of Ours by Willa Cather
    • Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
    • A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
    • Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
    • The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews
    • Alanna by Tamora Pierce