Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Beryl Markham experiences an interesting and unconventional childhood growing up on a horse farm with her father in colonial Kenya. She makes friends with the local tribe and her neighbors and finds her childhood ideal. But when she gets older her gender and the expectations of society for young ladies, start to stifle and constrain her. She attempts to become a wife but the match that seemed ideal turns out to be anything but perfect. Having tried the conventional role Beryl starts to follow her heart becoming the only female horse trainer in Africa all the while trying to follow her heart as well with varied levels of success and heartbreak.
I wasn’t a fan of The Paris Wife but I think that was more because I’m not a fan of Hemingway as a person/husband, but nonetheless I was a little concerned about this one. I shouldn’t have been. Beryl is such an interesting person I fully enjoyed reading her fictional biography. Yes, she made some really bad choices, but you couldn’t really fault her for going with her heart when the status quo was awful. There was one instance where I thought she was finally making a good choice for both herself and to fit into society and like Beryl I was mistaken so I could really identify with the character. This is the story of strong woman way ahead of her time trying to live by the beat of her own drum while the world around her held onto its Victorian attitudes only when it seemed to be convenient or hurtful to others to do so.
Wonderful on audio so you can hear how all the melodious African names are pronounced!