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How would you rate this book?
5***** 17%  17%  [ 1 ]
4**** 50%  50%  [ 3 ]
3*** 33%  33%  [ 2 ]
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Total votes : 6
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 Post subject: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:54 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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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.

294 pages; published 1942

Discussion will open on Wednesday, April 19.

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:26 pm 
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purple diamond member
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Waiting for my library copy.


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:29 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I just put a library hold on it. I've been rather distracted by real life and didn't remember to do that until I saw the thread. I also have a couple of other books to read for book groups that same week (audio wasn't available for any of the three, or I would have tried to split between text and audio), so I'm not sure if I'll be on time to comment this month, but hopefully I won't fall too far behind.


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:30 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I started the audiobook before going out of town last week, but I don't think I'll have time to finish listening before my loan runs out. I liked what I heard so far!

On a different note, it's might be interesting to know that a new novel about Beryl Markham's life was released last year, Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain (author of The Paris Wife).

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:23 pm 
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This is one of my 'keeper' books. I love it. An extraordinary woman. There is another book by Mary Clavell called 'Straight on Til Morning'. She was one of those characters larger than life who just did not fit their era. I think it is a total little gem and I am so looking forward to the comments! Heather


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:31 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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That's wonderful to know, hevva! Looking forward to your insights once discussion opens.

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:36 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I just ordered my copy from the library. I have spring break so I should have time to read.

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:32 am 
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Clan Fraser
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WEST WITH THE NIGHT BY BERYL MARKHAM
Originally published 1942; reissued 1983

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Discussion is now open!

Author bio (via Goodreads):

Quote:
Born in England, Beryl (Clutterbuck) Markham moved to a farm near the Great Rift Valley in Kenya (then British East Africa) with her family when she was four years old. She spent an adventurous childhood among native Africans and became the first licensed female horse trainer in Kenya.

She continued to be a non-conformist and trailblazer in both her professional and personal lives, marrying several times (and having numerous affairs). She also became an accomplished pilot, and was one of the first to fly solo and non-stop across the Atlantic from east to west (against prevailing winds) on September 4, 1936.

Her most famous book is the memoir "West With The Night", which went out of print shortly after its publication in 1942, until it was rediscovered by a California restaurateur in 1982 and achieved new popularity upon republication in 1983, during the final years of her life.


Additional images of Beryl:
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Questions to consider:

From misc. online sources:
- How is Africa presented?
- What about race and colonialism?
- How do we interpret Beryl Markham's relationship with animals?
- Does Markham transcend the rigid gender roles of her era?
-Why did Ernest Hemingway, who was often critical of his contemporaries, think West with the Night "a bloody, wonderful book"?

Some addition questions I'd like to consider:

• Which particular sections or vignette stand out the most for you?
• Likewise, which particular descriptive passages caught your eye?
• Beryl does not refer to other women in any great detail, and from this book, it would appear that she lived her life mostly in the company of men. How do you think this influenced the course of her life and her decisions?
• While West With the Night is a memoir, the author seems to deliberately leave out anything overly personal, especially any romances or relationships. Why do you think she chose to do this, and do you agree with this choice? How do you think this affects how we view her life as depicted in the book?

From reading various reference sources online, I learned that there is some controversy over the authorship of West With the Night. While it's considered to be written by Beryl Markham herself, some claim that it was actually written by her third husband based on stories she related to him. Biographers disagree, although one of her most recent biographers quite strongly refutes the claim. From Wikipedia, on the controversy:

Quote:
Author Mary S. Lovell visited Markham in Nairobi and interviewed her extensively shortly before Markham's death, in preparation for her biography, Straight On Till Morning (1987). She disputes the claim that Schumacher made substantive contributions to West with the Night. From her research, Lovell concluded that Markham was the sole author, although Schumacher edited the manuscript. Instead, Lovell credits Antoine de Saint Exupéry, another of Markham's lovers, with having inspired Markham's clear, elegant language and storytelling style.


A few questions related to this:

- No matter who wrote Beryl Markham's memoir, to what extent should we assume it has been shaped to make it a more powerful work of art?
- Does it matter whether Beryl Markham is the author of her own memoir?
- How might the story be different, depending on whether or not Beryl wrote it herself?

Finally:
Beryl has been represented in film and in books, both as herself and as characters with other names who appear to be based on her, as well as in a recent (2015) novel. Some selections are (per Wikipedia):


Quote:
- In the film adaptation of Blixen's memoir, Out of Africa (1985), Markham is represented as an outspoken, horse-riding tomboy named Felicity.
- Stefanie Powers portrayed her in a made-for-TV film called Beryl Markham: In The Shadow of the Sun in 1988.
- In the BBC-TV series, Heat of the Sun (1998), set in 1930s Kenya, the character of Emma Fitzgerald, an independent aviator played by Susannah Harker, appears to be modelled after Markham.
- A novel written by Paula McLain about Markham's life, "Circling the Sun", was released in 2015.


Have you seen or read any of these? What are your impressions?

Please share your thoughts on West With the Night!

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:56 am 
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Clan Fraser
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Wow - so much to think about, and I am only part way through the book. I shall have to speed read the rest of it. I am enjoying it so far, not least because I recently visited many of the locations, so I can picture much of the landscape she describes. I will be back with more comments when I have finished the book.


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:40 am 
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This is a favorite book of mine, I keep a copy of it since I first came across it more than 20 years ago.
There is another book about Beryl that you didn't mention...
Trzebinski, Errol, The Lives of Beryl Markham, W.W. Norton and Company, 1993.
Read more at http://biography.yourdictionary.com/ber ... 5iurOGl.99

I have read Mary S. Lovell's 'Straight on Till Morning' ( What a fabulous title, a quote from Peter Pan) and I have also seen the mini series with Stephanie Powers playing Beryl Markham.
There is quite a lot of Peter Pan in Beryl...adventurous with a little bit of retarded development thrown in; a lot of The Little Prince too...charming, determined and with a huge slice of curiosity.
I can easily see that she could have borrowed somewhat from the style of St-Exupery... I know he is supposed to have had a fling with Anne Morrows Lindbergh and who knows? She had such a very unconventional early life and part of her success and mystique was her apparent almost unshakeable self -confidence along with her amorality.
I am determined to believe that Beryl wrote her own memoir, I think Mr.Schumacher was trying to steal some of her thunder as their relationship disintegrated. I wonder whether anybody has tried to recover or publish some of her articles written for magazines etc. when she was living in California?
As well as Beryl's larger than life personality, I love West with the Night for the depiction of a land and a way of life that seems almost impossible to imagine now, with roles and rituals & relationships that have changed beyond all recognition. I recommend a book and a movie 'White Mischief" by James Fox and a film with the same name starring Charles Dance & Greta Scacchi 1988.... aristocrats behaving badly.
For me, her description of Africa , the glorious open spaces, the animals & her love of horses, her zest for life, the joy she obtained using her wits & strength to compete in a man's world are a total delight along with the wonder of flight... described in beautiful simple language. I agree with Hemingway!!! Heather


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:21 am 
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Clan Fraser
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I haven't managed to carve out much reading time, but every time I do sit down to read some I've been enjoying it. Last night, I read the chapter told from the point of view of the horse Camciscan and I loved it. :) Also enjoyed how she writes about her dog Buller. She definitely seems to have a strong connection with animals and she gives them such character in the book. It reminds me of DG and how the animal characters in the Outlander series also have so much personality.

Back with more later (after I hopefully manage to read more).


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:46 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I'm a little more than half through. My library has the book labeled as biography, but I think it reads as an autobiography. I would think that it must have had editing as I don't recall that BM had much formal schooling so I'm not sure how her written English was so superb. Did I miss something? The book has some exquisite passages. I especially enjoy the descriptions of Africa, her interaction with the animals and her derring do in rescuing fellow pilots.
So far of what I've read (a little more than halfway through) I loved the little bull terrier, Buller; and the zebra who followed Pandy. The lion story, Paddy; the loyalty of her father's servants. The stories are wonderful. It's a restful and pleasant read.

I didn't realize that she had so many relationships, perhaps there will be some mention of her escapades. I had no idea that
hevva wrote:
For me, her description of Africa , the glorious open spaces, the animals & her love of horses, her zest for life, the joy she obtained using her wits & strength to compete in a man's world are a total delight along with the wonder of flight... described in beautiful simple language. I agree with Hemingway!!! Heather
At this moment in my reading I would have to totally agree with you, Heather. She was a free spirit. I believe she was able to arrive at such freedom because her father was not a protective type. He left her to discover the world in which they'd settled. Sometimes, the events were quite dangerous. Surviving such dangers does make one confident and strong. Beryl certainly inherited the fearlessness genes.

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:53 am 
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Clan Fraser
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West with the Night is an interesting read, although I haven't finished it yet. I will return with additional comments. The introduction mentions that Markham's last husband may have helped her write the manuscript, which could be why it is written so well even though she herself never completed school. It is quite possible that St. Exupery also contributed to the memoir. I gather she wouldn't want to air any dirty laundry that would detract from her achievements.

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:43 pm 
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St. Exupery's 'Vol de Nuit' was published 1931 and 'Wind Sand & Stars' in 1939. The style is quite different though, in spite of a shared passion for the solitary glory of flight.
I would be interested to come across anything else Beryl has written but I believe the story telling gift is just a part of her personality as well as her upbringing and the language is quite simple, there are many other writers who also had little formal education after all. (Can you tell? I am firmly on the side of "Team Beryl") LOL Heather


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM April 2017: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:21 pm 
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I'm with you, hevva, especially after reading some of the #thingsonlywomenwritershear hash tag entries by authors like DG where you canplainly see the effort of some to discredit anything written by a woman or simply discredit the woman directly by denying she wrote it.

I haven't finished the book. I'm only getting started but love it already. I like that she talks about natives with respect and that she loves animals and nature. I also very much enjoy her plain and beautiful writing style.


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