Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

About the Setting and Characters

Beryl Markham on horseback Circling the Sun is a novelized memoir of the real life of Beryl Markham. You’re about to learn a great deal about Beryl from the book, so this section is going to cover a few fun facts about British East Africa during the 1920s.

During that time period, the territory lines and names were constantly changing. Throughout the book, this part of Africa will first be referred to as British East Africa. In 1920, the territory was broken up and renamed Kenya, Uganda, Zanzibar, and Tanganyika. Those who were living there didn’t know how to keep up with the constant changes, so they just called it like it was at the time. A territory by any other name still looks exactly the same.

Anyway, big game hunting was all the rage in Africa in the 1920s. Denys Finch Hatton plays a major role in Circling the Sun and was well known for being the best of the best in terms of big game hunting and going on safari. You’ll also meet Karen Blixen, one of Deny’s love interests in the book. The real Karen wrote a book called Out of Africa. You may have come across the movie by the same name. Robert Redford’s character was a thinly veiled version of Denys Finch Hatton.

Karen left Beryl out of her book. But Beryl went on to write her own autobiography called West with the Night. Beryl’s book never became all that popular, but it was said to be extremely well written. Enough so that Paula McLain read it and was inspired to write Circling the Sun. That just goes to show, eventually everything flies full circle. If you want to read West with the Night, it is DB number 23744.

About the Author of Circling the Sun

Paula McLain Author Photo Paula McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of various foster homes for the next fourteen years. When she aged out of the system, she supported herself by working as a nurses aid in a convalescent hospital, a pizza delivery girl, an auto-plant worker, a cocktail waitress–before discovering she could (and very much wanted to) write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996.

She is the author of The Paris Wife, a New York Times and international bestseller, which has been published in thirty-four languages. The recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family, Growing up in Other People’s Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.

This mini biography is from Paula Mclain's website.