A controversial and complicated character, Beryl Markham grew up as wild and spirited as the horses her father bred. She went on to remarkable and diverse achievements as a horse trainer, aviator, writer (West with the Night), and adventurer. Her personal life and unconventional upbringing (being brought to Kenya as a child and then abandoned by her mother) was always a striving for adventure and relationship which brought her to a record-setting solo flight across the ocean and the third in a passionate love triangle with Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton that you may remember from the memoir “Out of Africa.” This book definitely motivates me to read West with the Night to hear from Markham herself.
Master storyteller Paula McClain has done it again. She brought us Ernest Hemingway’s European world in The Paris Wife and now she brings us Beryl Markham’s colonial Kenya. McClain draws the reader in with historical biography that is so well described and as it should be–a compelling fiction but including a lot of fact. McClain does an amazing job of researching her subject’s history and making it come to life. Having lived myself in East Africa for so many years made this is a particularly special book for me, but I think anyone would enjoy it.
As with The Paris Wife, McClain has some interesting additional features on her website like an interview with the author and a reading group guide–well worth a look: Paula McClain Website
There’s some incredible photos in this youtube slide show (you can always mute the annoying music) although it is “West with the Night” by Bond :)).