Book & Wine Wednesday!
Dear Readers, I apologize in the slight posting delay. Life has been busy – and honestly, I was not in the mood to be writing for a little while. But I am back, and happy to be writing again (isn’t it wonderful to remember a joy that you have? To remember that doing something is really fun when you started to view it as just something else on your plate?). Thank you for your patience and for sticking with me! So happy to be back – and back with a Book & Wine Wednesday!
Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (July 28, 2015)
Amazon Book Description: Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.
Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.
Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.
Reading Sara Review: My goodness, this book was a fun and wonderful read. I was a fan of Paula McLain’s work from The Paris Wife and so quickly put this book on my TRB list when I heard it was coming out. I have not seen the movie Out of Africa in many years, but I could just picture Robert Redford as Denys Finch Hatton flirting with all of the ladies and creating love triangles that rival modern day. To clarify, because I was at first confused, this book is not about Karen Blixen, who Meryl Streep famously played in Out of Africa, the film (and who you will remember Robert Redford telling stories with by the campfire). This is from the same time, and has many of the same characters (who are, in fact, real) and focuses instead on Beryl Markham. Beryl is a minor character in the film and her name is changed anyway.
This novel only covers part of Beryl’s life, but a very interesting piece of it. Her opportunity to grow up in Africa, befriend local village kids, and become the first female to train race horses kept me reading late into the night. Beryl was unlucky in love most certainly – but much of that can be credited to her time in history when women married young (and pretty much had to for money, status and safety). Beryl’s seemingly forced independence at a young age obligated decisions prematurely and made her become something that she had not decided on yet. I think that her first marriage played a large role in who she became later in life. What I mean by this is that she was molded by having to make important decisions that would impact her forever when she should not have had to. Her mother’s departure and then later, her fathers, were impactful pieces of a puzzle that was not finished just yet.
Just as The Paris Wife has the background of (in my opinion) the best city on earth, Paris, this book had the incredible background of Africa. Kenya is another character in itself – a place that Beryl felt more at home than anywhere else in the world. She eventually traveled to other places, but the only place that she was truly at home was in Kenya.
Beryl is an adventurer, a passionate lover, a semi-terrible friend, but a real character that made history in many ways. Her story was touching and will stay with me for some time. I highly recommend this book. McLain is an incredible storyteller – I felt like I was there with the characters, drinking champagne at sunset!
Wine Recommendation: I have not been keeping this blog that long, but I know that I have recommended sparkling beverages multiple times – because yes, I love them, but also because they are celebratory and sometimes that just fits.
In Circling the Sun we meet Berkely Cole who is a favorite character of mine because he is a true friend to all of the characters, but also remains a mystery to most. Okay, it’s really because of this quote from Berkely, “it is compulsory to drink champagne in Africa.” So, if you are reading this book, which because of the excellent writing will certainly transport you there, you might want to have a good bottle of champagne as a companion.
Personally, I like Veuve Clicquot for celebratory moments. The gold top makes it any occasion feel glamorous. It retails for enough to feel celebratory (around $60 a bottle), but it is an immediate crowd-pleaser for any sundowners that you might be enjoying!