Tuesday, October 18, 2016

West With the Night

Have you heard of Beryl Markham?  Neither had I.  But I have now, and after reading this, so will you!

When Diana and I were in Madrid, New Mexico last summer, a man in a textile store gave Diana the above mentioned book, West With the Night.  She didn't have time to read it, so it sat in the Jeep's door pocket for the entire year, traveling back and forth, waiting for someone to read it.  This last trip home, I was out of reading material, so I decided to try it.

On the back cover is an endorsement from Ernest Hemingway about the extraordinary writing of Ms. Markham, and although the identity of the real author is a little uncertain, it really doesn't matter.  What does matter is that this book is as beautifully written as the movie Out of Africa is filmed.  Beryl Markham was raised in Africa, trained horses, and then became a bush pilot - the first woman bush pilot.  She is the first woman to fly from Europe to the US - hence the title since to do so, one must follow the night across the ocean.

The book is set in the 1930's, so the descriptions of Africa are much different from what we now know.  Beryl Markham actually knew the Blixens, who were featured in Out of Africa, and the husband plays a significant role in Beryl's life.  And although she isn't as famous as Amelia Earhart, her life is equally as exciting.

Apparently this book was reissued in 1983 after someone located Ms. Markham living in poverty in Africa.  The sales from the book allowed her to live decently for the remainder of her life.  In 2005 it was still listed as one of the top adventure books available.  It was not exactly gripping . . . but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and if you are looking for an interesting read, this just might be the ticket.

1 comment:

  1. I learned about Beryl through the fiction book loosely based on her life - Circling the Sun!