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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.3 out of 5
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  • Love and Loss. A compelling read.

    With such lyrical and spellbinding prose, Paul McLain kidnapped me, transported me to dazzling Kenya and made me discover an amazing woman, Beryl Markham who certainly deserves to be better known. If you loved Out of Africa by Karen Blixen, this book is a must read. I wasn’t able to put it down and I wished it went on and on. When I read The Paris Wife, Paula McLain got me so well into the skin of Hemingway’s wife Hadley that, since then, I was waiting for her next book. My joy was immense when I saw that she’d chosen Africa as location and as protagonist Beryl Markham, the first woman to cross the Atlantic east to west by solo plane, the first female horse trainer in Kenya, a bush pilot and the author of West with the Night. Through her poetic descriptions and her amazing ability to convey a sense of location, Paula McLain brings Kenya’s flora and fauna to life and we are back to early twentieth century enchanting Kenya with its magical landscape and eccentric society and some of the characters I was familiar with in Out of Africa. Beryl is an exceptional woman who gripped my heart since she was a little girl abandoned by her mother on a farm in Kenya. With Beryl, I shared the joy of a childhood free to run wild on her vast farm and befriend Kibii. Her love of the land and of the horses bred by her father is so endearing that when her father goes bankrupt and her life goes to pieces when she is sixteen, it left me heart-broken. Beryl’s early adulthood and the toll it took on her when she discovered the reality of life in this notorious closed circle of upper class British settlers in Kenya, of fortunes made and lost and of pairing and unpairing of couples provides a vivid insight in the long gone glamorous world of pioneers and safaris. I suffered with Beryl through her ups and downs as she swung from total destitution to fortune and full circle again, when she went through disastrous marriages and liaisons and still kept her head above water and her friendships that lasted a life time and, above all, throughout her love story with Denys, Karen’s Blixen lover in Out of Africa. Paula McLain creates an unforgettable character, a strong daring woman who was too emancipated for her time, broke the rules and was punished by society only because she was talented, dared and succeeded to do what all men were allowed to do in those days. The author’s prose is so captivating that you gallop with Beryl on her farm, breathe African air, your heart beats with Beryl in love and loss and never stop admiring her iron will to succeed. A compelling read.

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    3 person found this review helpful

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  • Very enjoyable

    I read West with the Night many years ago. In fact my youngest son was born the year Beryl died when we were living in Nairobi. It was wonderful reading her story again.

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    1 person found this review helpful

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    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Circling the Sun is an amazing read

    Paula McLain captures the very essence of the challenges faced and overcome by those early Kenya settlers. l could not put the book down!!

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    1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Ok, not fabulous.

    Ok, not fabulous. Took ages to get into it. Then it ended abruptly. I think the factual events which gave rise to the story were probably very interesting. So I felt it was a lost opportunity.

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    0 person found this review helpful

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  • Circling the Sun

    A wonderful story which grips the reader, which includes the magnificent backdrop of colonial Kenya. Highly recommended.

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    1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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