Circling the Su

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Circling the Sun
384 pages; Ballantine Books
Beryl Markham, the intrepid heroine of Paula McLain's Circling the Sun, is an adventurous iconoclast. As a child in colonial British East Africa, Beryl spends her happiest years beside Kibii, a young Kipsigis tribesman, running through the bush and learning to hunt. Following a failed stint at a rigid boarding school and an unfortunate marriage at age 16, she shrugs off the role of housewife and instead becomes a horse trainer. With the dissolution of her second marriage, she takes up piloting with the encouragement of Denys Finch Hatton, a man as restless and wild at heart as she is. But Beryl's success in charming aristocrats, royals and the hardscrabble men of the stables can't protect her from the social fallout of several affairs—rumored and actual. Despite her everyday battles against sexism, she never loses sight of her passions, no matter how many times she must begin anew. McLain's eloquent evocation of Beryl's daring life reminds us that independent women have always been among us, moving at their own speed.
— Sarah Meyer