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West with the Night (1942)

de Beryl Markham

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3,6381313,562 (4.15)441
West with the Night is the story of Beryl Markham--aviator, racehorse trainer, beauty--and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and '30s.
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For reasons I am quite happy with, I don’t travel as much as I once did. All the same, wanderlust stirs my soul from time to time, making me long to see mountains and oceans and strange trees. Thank God for books, especially books like this. Markham’s memoir of colonial Africa is poetically written, creating pictures of a place long ago and far away. So much has changed in the last fifty years, however, that it’s perhaps easier read as historical fiction than anything else.

Read More ( )
  Library_Guard | Jun 17, 2024 |
“To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told -- that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and the tyranny of clocks.”

You can be assured that this review will in no way be as well written as Beryl Markham's "West with the Night."

Markham was one hell of a woman, yet her story seems to have been lost to history. Born in England, but raised by her father in Africa, she never stepped back from a challenge and relished opportunities to look fear in the eye and have fear blink first. She was one of the first African bush pilots, the first racehorse trainer in the continent, and later the first person to fly non-stop east to west from England to North America. And yet, I'd never heard of her until I read Paula McClain's excellent [b:Circling the Sun|23995231|Circling the Sun|Paula McLain|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1426531608s/23995231.jpg|43446210] last year.

In addition to her many other talents, the woman can write. Hemingway famously praised this book by writing to a friend: "Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West with the Night? ...She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen."

In this memoir, Markham invites us to experience certain episodes of her life (note, it's not a chronological or complete memoir by any stretch). The writing is so evocative we are there with her in the air gripping the controls as her plane shakes back and forth in stormy turbulence; our hearts race with hers as she and her childhood companions move past a lion that has crossed their path; and we are jumping up and down in the stands in the final lap of a horse race.

Markham's writing is meant to be savored. "Slow reading" is a must for this book. Skimming will make your mind wander and leave you unsatisfied.

4.5 stars ( )
  jj24 | May 27, 2024 |
BIBLIOGRAPHIC DETAILS
(Print: 1942)
(Digital: Yes.)
Audio: 6/27/2005; 9781481580373; Blackstone Publishing; Duration 08:57:45 (8 parts); Unabridged.
(Film: No, but “Out of Africa” based on the book of the same title by Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen) is the same time period, location, and a few of the same characters.).

SERIES:
No

CHARACTERS: (Not comprehensive)
Beryl Clutterbuck (Markham) – author of this memoir, horse trainer, pilot
Charles Clutterbuck – Beryl’s father
Denys Finch Hatton – Noted briefly as someone in her social circle
Baron Blixen (Blixy) – A friend Beryl works with during her piloting days of searching of elephants and other safari targets).
Tom Black – Beryl’s flight instructor and friend.

DEDICATION:
For MY FATHER

SUMMARY/ EVALUATION:
It was listening to the novel by Paula McLain, “Circling the Sun” that inspired me to listen to this one. That book mentioned the existence of this one. I enjoyed this book—well except for the part where we were helping safaris find elephants to kill for their tusks. But I suppose this was another age, and that kind of thing was the norm.
The focus is on Africa, and on aviation. Anyone helping to get a glimpse of Beryl’s romantic life through her own eyes, will be disappointed. This book pretty much begins where “Circling the Sun” (which I should repeat is Fiction) leaves off, like another chapter of her story where no energy is spent on her romantic past.
Descriptions are interwoven with wry wit and poetic allusions.

AUTHOR:
Beryl Markham [Clutterbuck] (10/26/1902 - 8/3/1986). According to Wikipedia, Beryl “was an English-born Kenyan aviatrix (one of the first bush pilots), adventurer, racehorse trainer and author. She was the first person to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic from Britain to North America. She wrote about her adventures in her memoir, West with the Night.”

NARRATOR(S):
Anna Fields (Kate Fleming) 10/6/1965 – 12/14/2006. According to Wikipedia, “Kathryn Ann Fleming (October 6, 1965 – December 14, 2006)[1] was an American actress, voice actress, artist, singer, and award-winning audiobook narrator and producer. She was the owner and executive producer at Cedar House Audio, an audio production company specializing in spoken word that is located in Seattle, Washington, United States.
Fleming was born in Arlington, Virginia in 1965. She grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1987 (Bachelor of Arts, Religion). Fleming studied at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky, and was an alumna of the 1987/1988 Apprentice Company.[2] After a stint as a professional actor, she branched into audiobooks in the mid-1990s. Fleming recorded well over 200 titles, many under the stage name Anna Fields.[3]”
According to npr.org, tragically, Kate died in a flash flood when trying to rescue her recording equipment from her basement.
Initially, when I began listening to this book right after listening to “Circling the Sun” narrated by Katharine Lee McEwan, I missed Katharine’s gentle English accent, but I soon adapted and realized that Kate was the perfect narrator to deliver Beryl’s wry wit.

GENRE:
Autobiography, History, Non-fiction, Memoir

LOCATIONS:
Colonial British East Africa - Njoro, Kenya, Nairobi, Ngong Hills, London

TIME FRAME:
Early 20th century, early 1900’s

SUBJECTS:
Africa, horse training, African Natives, African friends, independence, African tribes, piloting, airplanes, flight, safaris

NARRATIVE STYLE:
1st Person

SAMPLE QUOTATION:
From Book 1, Chapter Part One: Message from Nungwe
“How is it possible to bring order out of memory? I should like to begin at the beginning, patiently, like a waver at his loom. I should like to say, ‘This is the place to start; there can be no other.’
But there are a hundred places to start for there are a hundred names – Mwanza, Serengetti, Nungwe, Molo, Nakaru. There are easily a hundred names, and I can begin best by choosing one of them – not because it is first nor of any importance in a wildly adventurous sense, but because her it happens to be, turned uppermost in my logbook. After all, I am no weaver. Weavers create. This is remembrance – re-visitation; and names are keys that open corridors no longer fresh in the mind, but nonetheless familiar in the heart.
So the name shall be Nungwe – as good as any other – entered like this in the log, lending reality, if not order, to memory:

DATE – 16/6/35
TYPE AIRCRAFT – VP – KAN
JOURNEY – Nairobi to Nungwe
TIME – 3 hrs. 40 mins.

After that comes, PILOT: Self; and REMARKS – of which there were none. But there might have been.
Nungwe may be dead and forgotten now. It was barely alive when I went there in 1935. It lay west and south of Nairobi on the southernmost rim of Lake Victoria Nyanza, no more than a starveling outpost of grubby huts, and that only because a weary and discouraged prospector one day saw a speck of gold clinging to the mud on the heel of his boot. He lifted the speck with the tip of his hunting knife and stared at it until it grew in his imagination from a tiny, rusty grain to a nugget, and from a nugget to a fabulous stake.”

RATING:
4 stars for interest and poetically written prose.

STARTED-FINISHED
5/31/2021 – 6/14/2021
( )
  TraSea | Apr 29, 2024 |
Usually this genre (part travelogue, part biography) isn't what interests me but it was recommended and I was pleasantly surprised. The writing style is clean and crisp. If it's praised by Hemingway, who's to blame? She avoided any mention of the Happy Valley set, which may or may not have been apropriate for her goals. I would have liked to have read about them. ( )
  cura22 | Apr 21, 2024 |
Biography
  BooksInMirror | Feb 19, 2024 |
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"I speak of Africa and golden joys." -- Shakespeare, Henry IV, Act V, Sc. 3
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For my Father
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West with the Night is the story of Beryl Markham--aviator, racehorse trainer, beauty--and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and '30s.

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