246 pages; published January 2012
Pioneering aviator Beryl Markham started life as the unusually bold daughter of an English colonist in Africa. Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Beryl is raised by a distracted horsebreeding father and the Nandi tribe that works for him. Her childhood is spent learning to glide noiselessly in the woods, hunt large game, jump higher than her head, and train some of the finest horses on the African continent. MacColl interlaces her account of Markham’s early life with journal entries detailing her daring flight that set her as the first female aviator to fly solo from England to North America.
What would you do if a leopard had just dragged your favorite dog from your sleeping hut? Well, first of all, few of us would ever be in that situation. But even fewer – as 10-year-old girls – would plunge into the African jungle intent on saving the dog and fighting the leopard. But Beryl Clutterbuck, daughter of an English colonist in Kenya, was never like most people. Most people don’t know how to jump higher than their heads, willingly hunt a lion, train champion racehorses, or fly alone in a small plane through endless darkness just to be the first person ever to fly solo from England to North America. Beryl, better known by her married name of Beryl Markham, lived a life of wild adventure. This exciting novel shows where it all began – hunting alongside the Nandi tribe in the early years of the 20th century – and reveals the details of her daring trans-Atlantic solo flight in 1936.
I have been fascinated by Beryl Markham for a long time, having read her autobiography, “West with the Night.” By both accounts, she was clearly a very intense and difficult person, but also amazing and courageous.