The reviews are all over the place on this very long saga of a book about a female pilot in the early days of pilots and airplanes. Yes it is long…but I loved it. At first I thought it was about a real person, but the character is fictional but comes to life under Shipstead’s genius. Here is my book review Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead.
Marian and Jamie Graves are twin infants when they narrowly escape from a sinking ocean liner in 1914. They find themselves growing up with their uncle in Missoula Montana…never knowing their parents. A simple life they lead until one day Marian sees her first airplane when ‘barnstormers” come to town. She will never be the same.
Her obsession with planes will lead her into a violent marriage and a bootlegging world. Marian goes into hiding to allude her husband, and gets thousands of hours of flying in in Alaska, until war provides her opportunities never before available.
Meanwhile the novel simultaneously follows Hadley Baxter, a childhood actor gone a bit astray with wild behavior as an adult. Eerily similar life circumstances between Hadley and Marian is even more coincidental when Hadley is cast to play Marian in a movie about the story of Marian’s life, and eventual death while circumnavigating the world.
As Hadley researches her character she learns some hidden information about Marian’s life that will surprise her and could change history. Should she keep it a secret or share with the director of the film?
These two strong female characters carry the novel, but I preferred Marian’s story the most. I also really enjoyed the character of Jamie, Marian’s twin brother, and his conviction to animal rights. The novel also explores gay and lesbian issues of the period, women’s rights (or lack there of), and how world wars changed everything about society and life in the first half of the 20th century.
*****Five stars for Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead.
Thank you for reading my book review Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead.
See last week’s book review Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
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