Great Circle
by Shipstead, Maggie

A century after daredevil female aviator Marian Graves's disappearance in Antarctica, actress Hadley Baxter is cast to play her and immerses herself in the role as their fates - and their dreams - become intertwined.

MAGGIE SHIPSTEAD is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her first novel, Seating Arrangements, was a New York Times best seller, a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, and the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She is a frequent contributor to travel and adventure magazines.

Emblematic of the legions of women who chafe at the notion of being tethered to Earth, female pilots have long beguiled authors as exemplars of those bound to seek answers to perennial questions of desires and needs, expectations and disappointments. Through the lightly interwoven stories of impetuous flyer Marian Graves and flavor-of-the-month actress Hadley Baxter, Shipstead (Astonish Me, 2014) ponders the motivating forces behind acts of daring and defiance, self-fulfillment and self-destruction. Marian's sprawling life story forms the bulk of this rolling, roiling epic, from the improbability of her survival as an infant rescued from a sinking ocean liner to her tempestuous marriage to a Prohibition-era bootlegger to her days as a thrill-seeking WWII air transport pilot to her Earhartesque disappearance during a pole-to-pole flight. Tapped to play Marian in a biopic about her doomed aerial expedition, Hadley hopes to find in Marian's story the inspiration to help her course-correct her own turbulent life. An ambitious, soaring saga, Shipstead's transcendent tale takes her characters to dizzying heights, drawing readers into lives of courage and mystery. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

The intertwined journeys of an aviatrix born in 1914 and an actress cast to play her a century later. In a novel twice as long as and an order of magnitude more complex than the well-received Seating Arrangements (2012) and Astonish Me (2014), Shipstead reveals breathtaking range and skill, expertly juggling a multigenerational historical epic and a scandal-soaked Hollywood satire, with scenes playing out on land, at sea, and in the air. "We were both products of vanishment and orphanhood and negligence and airplanes and uncles. She was like me but wasn't. She was uncanny, unknowable except for a few constellations I recognized from my own sky": These are the musings of actress Hadley Baxter. She has been familiar with the story of Marian Graves, an aviatrix who disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe, since she was just a little girl‚?"before she became a pop-culture phenomenon, turned into a movie star with a mega-franchise, accidentally destroyed her career, and was given the chance to reinvent playing Marian in a biopic. The film, Peregrine, is based at least partly on the logbook of Marian's "great circle," which was found wrapped in a life preserver on an ice floe near the South Pole. Shipstead's story begins decades earlier, with the christening of ¬ the Josephina Eterna in Glasgow in 1909. The unhappy woman who breaks the bottle on her bow, the laconic captain who takes the ship to sea, the woman he beds onboard, the babies that result from this union‚?"Marian Graves and her twin, Jamie‚?"the uncle who has to raise them when their mother drowns and their father disappears: The destinies of every one of these people, and many more unforgettable characters, intersect in ways that reverberate through a hundred years of story. Whether Shipstead is creating scenes in the Prohibition-era American West, in wartime London, or on a Hollywood movie set, her research is as invisible as it should be, allowing a fully immersive experience. Ingeniously structured and so damn entertaining; this novel is as ambitious as its heroines‚?"but it never falls from the sky. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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