“A life has to move or it stagnates. Even this life, I think. Every tomorrow ought not to resemble every yesterday.” Beryl Markham
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 :)).
This was a Heather’s Pick (chapters.ca). I’ve learned to trust Heather Reisman’s recommendations because I usually like the books on her list. In preparation for this book I did some reading on Wikipedia about Ernest Hemingway and I went to Paris for a few days. Who said research has to be boring?
‘The Paris Wife’ by Paula McLain is historical fiction, telling the story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife (first of four!). Swept away by her magnetic and intense husband and the bohemian lifestyle they would live with other creative Americans in Paris, Hadley’s story is romantic, fascinating, and heartbreaking. McLain captures the spirit of the era well and explores the relationship that this enigmatic couple had.
The author did an incredible amount of research for this book to get Hadley’s voice right. Her website is excellent, especially the Fact vs. Fiction section, the Video, and the Photo Gallery. Check it out. It is the most comprehensive author website I have ever seen and enriches the book further for me.
The Paris Wife Website
Why is it that so often those with an unusual amount of creative genius are often troubled or dysfunctional in their private lives? We find ourselves compelled and drawn to this question when we think about famous artists like Mozart, Van Gogh, and Hemingway. Paula McLain has done a great job of intriguing and informing with enough emotion and romance thrown in to make the learning effortless! One reviewer called The Paris Wife “literary tourism”. If you enjoy armchair travel, you’ll love this one!