‘Circling the Sun’ in Kenya

By Arlene Lichtenstein
This item appears on page 48 of the February 2016 issue.

My husband, Alan, and I have traveled to Africa three times with Overseas Adventure Travel and have had extraordinary trips each time. The historical novel I just read, “Circling the Sun” by Paula McLain (2015, Ballantine Books), made me long for another trip to Africa.

The book recounts the early life of Beryl Markham, who became Africa’s first woman thoroughbred trainer, among other accomplishments. 

In colonial Kenya, she lived with her father on a horse farm outside of Nairobi. Through her friendship with Kibii, a boy from the Kipsigis tribe, Beryl develops courage, strength of will and a resilience of spirit, following along with Kibii’s training as he becomes a young warrior.

Beryl was a woman before her time. Her choice of livelihood as a horse trainer and, later, a bush pilot made her seem more like a woman of the 21st century than of the early 20th century. 

Throughout the story, Kenya and Africa glow with life. Not only colonial society but landscapes, animals, tribal life and the wonder and beauty of Africa are revealed. This is a novel that I think every traveler and every reader can appreciate.


Commack, NY