Book notes | Circling the Sun
This historical novel depicts the life of Beryl Markham from her birth in 1902 until her mid-thirties. Beryl was born in England but moved at age 4 when her father took the family to Kenya to set up a horse farm. Kenya at the time was the colonial British East Africa. Beryl’s mother soon abandoned her and her father, returning to England with Beryl’s brother.
Beryl’s childhood was greatly influenced by her father and the native Kipsigis tribe. She grew up with little restraint or attention to the cultural norms for women at that time. This unconventional upbringing came into conflict with expectations once she came of age for marriage.
In describing Markham’s life in 1920s colonial Kenya, author Paula McLain introduces us to a variety of characters that influenced Markham’s life. The beauty of the country also comes through clearly in the novel, as does the strangeness of British citizens trying to superficially maintain their British ways of being in Africa while also living and loving by their own rules.
Markham was a non-conformist, becoming the first licensed woman horse trainer in Kenya at the age of 17. She married more than once and had a passionate affair with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton, who was romantically involved with the Danish author Baroness Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen). Markham became a bush pilot and, in 1936, was the first pilot to successfully cross the Atlantic, east to west, from England to North America. She wrote a memoir about her life, West With the Night, upon which McLain based much of the story in her historical novel.
The responses of UMRA Book Club I members to the book were mixed. Many enjoyed the descriptions of Kenya and the character’s early life as well as the depiction of colonialism in the story. Some readers found it difficult to like Markham as an adult because of the choices she made. There was general agreement that she was an interesting character who broke boundaries for women as both a horse trainer and aviator.
Readers of Markham’s memoir felt that McLain’s historical novel did not emphasize accomplishments that were more detailed in the memoir. Instead, the second part of the book seemed “gossipy” to them, focusing too much on the amoral lifestyle of the ex-patriots living in Kenya.
—Kathy Cramer, UMRA Book Club I member
Book Club I to meet July 15
Fri, Jul 15 2022, 2pm
Kathy Cramer will lead the discussion of Circling the Sun by Paula McLain when the UMRA Book Club I meets via Zoom at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 15.
Email Pat Tollefson for more information, including suggestions for starting a new book club.
We will meet at the Mel-O-Glaze bakery on 28th and Minnehaha Parkway and walk to Minnehaha Falls and then back again.
Some of the most valuable and rare maps in the world are held in UMN's own James Ford Bell Library, housed in Andersen Library See https://www.lib.umn.edu/collections/special/bell .
The first meeting of UMRA’s Family History Interest Group for 2023–24 will feature a presentation by Marilyn DeLong about sharing family stories and learning surprising family connections.
UMRA has a special opportunity to engage with the four newest members of the U of M Board of Regents on Wednesday, October 4, via Zoom. The purpose of the event is to share our perspectives as former University employees.
All UMRA members with an interest in photography are welcome to attend the meeting of the UMRA Photo Club on Tuesday, October 10. We welcome photographers of all abilities. Most of us are struggling amateurs. We laugh a lot and learn from sharing and talking about our pictures.
The walk along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis is always changing, with many attractions being added along both sides of the river and, now, the beautiful fall colors.
UMRA’s workshop on Open Enrollment for U of M retiree health plans for 2024 will include a briefing on the choice between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans, by Jeff Snegosky of BCBS of Minnesota, followed by an overview of the U of M’s retiree health insurance plans, by Katie Kolodge from the Office of Human Resources.
Mary Jane Towle will lead the discussion of The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.
To help us understand the growing movement in the U.S. to ban books, especially children’s literature, and the critical role of libraries to protect intellectual freedom, UMRA will welcome U of M Librarian Lisa Von Drasek (pictured) and Rochester Public Librarian Kimberly Edson as the guest speakers for our October luncheon forum at Midland Hills.
The Fourth Friday Book Club will meet from 2 to 3:30 p.m. CDT on October 27 to discuss the life and narrative of Frederick Douglass.
Join us for a 5 mile moderately paced hike around Pleasant Lake located in the heart of North Oaks. It takes us past some of James J. Hill’s original farm buildings as well as beautiful homes built along the lakeshore. The trail is wide, generally flat and consists of packed dirt and crushed rock.
The documents noted for this event specify your managers and can minimize income taxes now, and estate taxes.
The material world we live in is shaped by design. While popular discussions of design typically focus on fashion and furniture, design is fundamental in art, architecture, and indeed nearly all aspects of the everyday world around us. Goldstein Museum of Design curator Jean McElvain will demonstrate and discuss some of the fascinating and often unexpected holdings before we walk through the current gallery exhibit.
Get an insider's perspective on Santa Fe and Taos alongside local artists, exploring the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, enjoying traditional music and learning about native cultures. The deadline for reserving a space is June 2, 2023.
Please join us for an invigorating hike from The Monument located at the intersection of Mississippi RIver Blvd and Summit Avenue in St. Paul to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis and back. This hike is on paved trails, approximately 5.5 miles in length, and will be at a pace suitable to the weather.