Circling the Sun

Our January Let’s Read Rant Repeat Book Club discussion is this week, January 24, 2021 at 7:00pm CST! If you want to join in on the discussion, head to our instagram stories at 7:00pm, where we’ll be live over on @letsreadrantrepeat!

About Let’s Read Rant Repeat

Bookstagram is such a wonderful community and I have met quite a few folks that I now consider to be friends. One of these is Jordan from @readwithwine and together we host a Virtual Book Club @letsreadrantrepeat. Our aim is to read a variety of genres, constantly switching it up to ensure we are reading something everyone will enjoy. Each month we choose 1 book that can be practically any type of story. We host a group chat with fellow book lovers on Instagram, where we can talk about the book as we read. At the end of the month (a specified Sunday at 7pm CST) Jordan and I get together for wine & an Instagram Live discussion. We generally invite guests from our group chat to share their thoughts on the book as well!

For January, we decided to start off with a book from my backlist, Circling the Sun. A historical fiction based around Beryl Markham, who was the first women to fly solo from Europe to North America! We love reading about women before their time, and we’re so excited to discuss Paula McLain’s 2015 release. Get the book HERE!


“I’ve sometimes thought that being loved a little less than others can actually make a person, rather than ruin them.”

― Paula McLain, Circling the Sun

Paula McLain is such an amazing author. Her vivid depictions and use of imagery can pull just about any reader straight into whatever world she’s currently visiting. Circling the Sun is no exception and from the very first pages I found myself transported to the rolling hills of Kenya.

I picked Circling the Sun up two years ago, when it appeared as an add-on for Book of the Month. Unforuantely, I found myself continously putting this on my TBR and yet never picking it up. I actually didn’t realize this was based on a real women until I read the author notes. Don’t ask me how I missed that but I did.

Since this is a historical fiction, McLain choose to envision Beryl Markham’s early life. Instead of focusing on her career as a pilot, McLain writes about how Beryl grew up in Kenya, training horses, and free from the most of the restriction rules of early 1900’s England. I honestly, thought this book would be more about flying, but it’s primarily a coming of age story, centered around Markham.

Beryl Markham led an extraordinary life and Paula McLain’s writing really captures, I think, the fierce and independent woman Markham was. Like so many women of the age, Markham viewed societies rules as irrelevant, which often landed her in some ‘interesting’ situation. However, being raised primarily without structure and without a mother really led to the creation of Markham’s character. As McLain pens in the quote above, the lack of a mother’s love fed Markham’s blatant disregard for the ‘proper’ roles of an English lady.

Since this is a historical fiction and is only based around Beryl Markham’s early life, I have no idea if the painting McLain paints is accurate. I think it’s such a risk to surround your stories around real people, because you risk losing your audience with either too many accurate and lengthy historical depiction, while also having to world build around the character. McLain really does an outstanding job of ensuring that Markham is a multi-dimensional character, and just like folks in real life, the reader’s relationship with Markham throughout the story changes.

Lastly, while the main focus of the book is not about colonization, McLain does a fair job of not romanticizing the colonies. Instead, and in multiple instances, she paints these colonists as spoiled and often oblivious to those around them.

I highly recommend this book to any historical fiction lovers. I also plan on reading Beryl Markham’s own story, West into the Night.


Circling the Sun is out now.  If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.


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