Book Report: Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

June 9, 2022

I always read in bed before turning out the light, but only occasionally do I begin the day reading in bed. Last Friday, however, I woke up a bit earlier than usual and decided to treat myself to what I call “Edith Wharton Time.”

Now I have no idea if the American writer Edith Wharton actually started her day by reading in bed, but when I toured her gorgeous home, The Mount, in Massachusetts and saw her spacious bedroom looking out over the gardens she had carefully planned, I imagined her enjoying the morning reading or writing in bed before attending to her agenda for the day. She had servants, of course, and perhaps even was served breakfast in bed. That was not the case for me, but I don’t usually eat breakfast anyway.

I only had 50 pages left to read in Great Circle (2021) by Maggie Shipstead, and reading them in the early hours when I felt refreshed from a good night’s sleep seemed like a perfect way to start the day.

I loved this book.

The plot summary on the back of the book is accurate and enticing:

After being rescued from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Montana. There–after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through in beat-up biplanes–Marian commences a lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen, she drops out of school and finds an unexpected patron in a wealthy bootlegger, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.

A century later, movie star Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film centered on her disappearance in Antartica. Scandal-plagued and trapped in her role as a Hollywood wild child, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after getting fired from a romantic film franchise. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds alongside Marian’s own story, as the two women’s destinies–and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different places and times–collide.

Does this tempt you?

At 651 pages, reading this book is a commitment, but I enjoy sinking into a book with rich descriptions of place and engaging with complicated characters and twists of plots and staying with a story that spans lifetimes. And the circle theme–circles as endless and wondrous, but as Marian points out in the book she writes about undertaking the North-South Pole journey, “Endlessness is torture, too.”

I now have added Shipstead’s two previous novels to my TBR list: Astonish Me (2014) and Seating Arrangements (2012). My library hold list continues to grow!

Starting my day by finishing the book must have been a good omen, for the delights of the day continued. My husband, who was busy with his garage sale selling the discarded furniture he has painted, pointed out it was National Donut Day. That required a trip to a favorite bakery, The Baker’s Wife. And later I enjoyed time with a friend sitting in the sunshine on her patio. A good day, indeed.

An Invitation

Do you enjoy reading in bed? I would love to know.

One thought on “Book Report: Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

  1. Pingback: Book Report: June Round-Up | Living on Life's Labyrinth

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