Not “A Girl’s Girl”

Circling the Sun


I‘ve just finished Paula McLain’s new novel based on the life of Beryl Markham, the renowned horsewoman, aviatrix and author.  It’s a quick and easy read about a complex woman I’d venture to guess was more fascinating to be acquainted with from afar than up close and personal.




Not much of a “Girl’s Girl” our Beryl, she was no shrinking violet to say the least. Training champion racehorses, surviving a lion attack, and safely crash-landing the first east to west solo flight by a woman across the Atlantic, appear to be some of her tamer accomplishments.

A first marriage at 16, with two more to follow and a countless string of affairs, including one with heartthrob Denys Finch Hatton (cue hair washing scene in Out of Africa !)  she wasn’t a friend you left sitting with your husband for too long.

That louche “Happy Valley” crowd…

The heat, the gin, the malaria…




I’ll definitely be revisiting “West With the Night” now that my interest in this formidable, if not necessarily likable woman has been rekindled.




And perhaps dig up “White Mischief” once again.  An oldie but goodie.


Cheers to strong women and those who share their stories!










  1. Thank you darling! looks right up my alley! Yes Loved White Mischief as well, can still remember lines from that film!
    Im sure you know which ones! Looking very forward to going to Zambia and Zimbabwe again at Christmas! Happy weekend pally!

  2. I find “White Mischief” to be a close to perfect film. As evocative of its time and place as “Scandal” is of Swingin’ London!

  3. Hey Slim, My interest in Markham was also rekindled recently when I read her biography
    “Straight on Till Morning: The Life of Beryl Markham” by Mary Lovell. I read “West with the Night” twenty years ago and plan to pull it off the shelf and reread it as well. In my view, like many women who succeed in male dominated environments, Markham adopted many stereotypical male attributes to make her way…also a fan of “White Mischief”…love me some Charles Dance – ever since “Jewel in the Crown.”

  4. I was so excited to see this new book about Beryl Markham and read it over the summer…I got hooked after reading another biography of hers, Straight On Till Morning. And where is Greta Scacchi now, I wonder? She was so fabulous in White Mischief! Not to mention countless others, like Man In Love. I once read she turn down the lead for Basic Instinct…

  5. I just finished this most wonderful book about 2 weeks ago and I’ve been telling all my book friends about it. No surprise you are a fan! I’m now obsessed with all things Beryl! I love how Paula McLain takes these lesser known strong women and turns their stories into fiction based on historical facts. Would love to see her do a book on Queen Elizabeth’s MIL, Barbara Hutton, or even Slim Keith and Babe Paley —wink!!!

  6. Beryl Markham lived for a while in the Mission Canyon area of Santa Barbara and there are various opinions of who helped author West With The Night.

  7. I read Circling the Sun because of another book I read earlier this summer, The Temptress:The Scandalous Life of Alice de Janze and the Mysterious Death of Lord Erroll by Paul Spicer. All about Kenya and the Happy Valley set. Reading The Paris Wife now. I have gotten to the part where they are splitting up and I almost can’t finish. It makes me sad for them.

  8. I’m adding that one to my GR shelf, Slim. Thanks for the recommendation. I loved The Paris Wife. Now, what’s this “White Mischief”? I must read that. Where the hell have I been?

  9. Thanks, I too loved Paris Wife, so I’m rushing out to get it, just wondering when your book is coming. I love the way you write!

  10. My favorite line from “White Mischief” is when the Alice de Janzé character says, “Not another f$#@ing beautiful day!”
    I lived in Kenya for a few years, and it really was a string of amazingly beautiful days. Mine were without swearing because I loved it there.

Would love to hear from you!