Circling the Sun

  • by Paula McLain
  • Narrated by Suzannah Hampton
  • 11 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

As a young girl, Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya from Britain by parents dreaming of a new life. For her mother the dream quickly turned sour, and she returned home; Beryl was brought up by her father, who switched between indulgence and heavy-handed authority, allowing her first to run wild on their farm then incarcerating her in the classroom.
The scourge of governesses and a serial absconder from boarding school, by the age of 16 Beryl had been catapulted into a disastrous marriage - but it was in facing up to this reality that she took charge of her own destiny.
Scandalizing high society with her errant behaviour, she left her husband and became the first woman ever to hold a professional racehorse trainer's licence. After falling in with the notoriously hedonistic and gin-soaked Happy Valley set, Beryl soon became embroiled in a complex love triangle with the writer Karen Blixen and big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton (immortalized in Blixen's memoir Out of Africa).
It was this unhappy affair which set tragedy in motion while awakening Beryl to her truest self and to her fate: to fly.


What the Critics Say

"Paula McLain cements herself as 'the writer' of historical fictional memoir with Circling the Sun, giving vivid voice to Beryl Markham, a singular, extraordinary woman whose name we all know - and whose story we don't. In a brilliant move, McLain hardly focuses at all on the trans-Atlantic flight that made the aviator so famous, choosing instead to explore what happened before: Markham's unorthodox childhood in Kenya, a failed marriage, and a star-crossed love affair with Denys Finch Hatton. The result? In McLain's confident hands, Markham crackles to life, and we readers truly understand what made a woman so far ahead of her time believe she had the power to soar." (Jodi Picoult)
"Paula McLain has such a gift for bringing characters to life. I loved discovering the singular Beryl Markham, with all her strengths and passions and complexities, a woman who persistently broke the rules, despite the personal cost. She's a rebel in her own time, and a heroine for ours." (Jojo Moyes)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating story, narration almost unbearable!

I almost gave up listening several times, despite being gripped by the real life story of Beryl Markham, who lived an extraordinary life in Africa, contemperary of the more famous Karen Blixen (Out of Africa). Unfortunately I found the narrator extremely off-putting, over-enunciating and way too 'put on posh' for my taste, and what I believe would suit the story. Yes, Beryl was undoubtedly English upper class but she could never be this prissy!
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- Penny


There are not many books that are able to accurately describe Kenya but this hits the nail on the head. Having been born in Nairobi and lived within a mile of Karen Blixen’s house, the author manages to draw the very best of what it was like to grow up in this beautiful place. It made me feel homesick and long to be back there.
The only thing I found offputting about this audio book was the narrator’s overly exaggerated cut glass voice.
I would highly recommend this book and felt sad when it came to an end.
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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 28-07-2015
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK