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Good news for readers of classics! The Davis-Kidd Classics Club reformed last fall here at Parnassus Books! We will meet several times over this year to talk about important, older books (generally published before 1960) that we either missed or want to revisit. Scroll down for upcoming dates and book selections!
"It's all about the book."
Sometimes after a super-successful blockbuster bestseller, an author's next work just doesn't measure up. Readers' expectations are high and often tend to be critical of the new book, however eagerly they have awaited it. Well, no such problem with my latest read, the next effort from Paula McLain. Her last novel The Paris Wife was a book club favorite everywhere, a bestseller for months, and a personal favorite of mine. And her new book, Circling the Sun, promises to be just as big. It's about Beryl Markham, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west (England to North America). Beryl's own book, West With the Night, covers this material also, but Circling the Sun tells her story in a historical fiction context. It begins during her early years with her father on a farm in Kenya, motherless after her mother leaves to go back to England. Growing up in a world of men, horses, and "natives" shapes the woman Beryl becomes, and colors her relationships with the men she loves, has affairs with, and marries. An obsession with Denys Finch Hatton, British big-game hunter, is especially important in her life, as is her relationship with Lord Delamere, a father-figure who develops her skills as a horse-woman. How she becomes an aviator is fascinating, given the state of aviation and airplanes in the 1920's. Also interesting are her complicated friendships with women, most notably Karen Blixen (the future writer Isak Dineson) with whom she shared Denys Finch Hatton. Paula McLain's smooth and readable prose makes the story flow, as it did in The Paris Wife. I hated to see this one end and can't wait to recommend it when it comes out this summer on July 28th.
Until then, these books also make for fascinating reading about Beryl Markham:
West With the Night - Beryl Markham
Markham's own memoir about her life as a pioneer aviator, horse-woman, and lover of Africa, contains beautiful writing that makes it a classic.
Out of Africa - Isak Dineson (Karen Blixen)
Karen's story of the years 1914-1931 managing a coffee plantation in Kenya, and of her relationships with Denys Finch Hatton, Beryl Markham and other colorful characters who made up the British ex-pat circle in East Africa at that time.
Too Close to the Sun: the Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton - Sara Wheeler
The biography of this legendary soldier, lover and big game hunter. (The book seems to be difficult to get at this time)
Parnassus Book Club Selections
March - Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
April - Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys (This is the Nashville Reads book!)
Parnassus Classics Club - The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck
Parnassus book club meetings are free and open to anyone. Buy the book, read the book and join the discussion!
Kathy Schultenover, Book Club Coordinator