You can be assured that this review will in no way be as well written as Beryl Markham's "West with the Night."
Markham was one hell of a woman, yet her story seems to have been lost to history. Born in England, but raised by her father in Africa, she never stepped back from a challenge and relished opportunities to look fear in the eye and have fear blink first. She was one of the first African bush pilots, the first racehorse trainer in the continent, and later the first person to fly nonstop east to west from England to North America. And yet, I'd never heard of her until I read Paula McClain's excellent Circling the Sun last year.
In addition to her many other talents, the woman can write. Hemingway famously praised this book by writing to a friend: "Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West with the Night? ...She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen."
In this memoir, Markham invites us to experience certain episodes of her life (note, it's not a chronological or complete memoir by any stretch). The writing is so evocative we are there with her in the air gripping the controls as her plane shakes back and forth in stormy turbulence; our hearts race with hers as she and her childhood companions move past a lion that has crossed their path; and we are jumping up and down in the stands in the final lap of a horse race.
Markham's writing is meant to be savored. "Slow reading" is a must for this book. Skimming will make your mind wander and leave you unsatisfied.
4.5 stars "Africa was the breath and life of my childhood. It is still the host of all my darkest fears, the cradle of mysteries always intriguing, but never wholly solved. It is the remembrance of sunlight and green hills, cool water and the yellow warmth of bright mornings. It is as ruthless as any sea, more uncompromising than its own deserts. It is without temperance in its harshness or in its favours. It yields nothing, offering much to men of all races."
I cannot help but liken this alluring memoir to a love story – a romance of sorts between Beryl Markham and Africa – its landscape, its people, its dangers and its wonders. Probably like most readers, I’d first learned of Markham from Paula McLain’s fictional work, Circling the Sun. I was so inspired by her character in that one, that I knew I’d have to read this one someday. I have to admit, I put it off for nearly four years. I wasn’t quite sure it would measure up to my expectations. I mean, Markham was an adventuress – a wild child, a horse trainer, a pilot. How could she possibly write an engaging memoir? Well, she did that and more. Not only did the descriptions of her life and of Africa hold me spellbound, I was completely intoxicated by the beautiful prose.
She spoke of her childhood living on her father’s farm in Njoro in what is now known as Kenya. She learned to hunt with the Nandi boys and men. She kept a trusty dog, Buller, by her side. He was there through thick and thin. I had to gasp at many of the perilous encounters and close calls she narrates! Elephants, horses, birds, warthogs and lions – she speaks of all creatures with such eloquence.
"The distant roar of a waking lion rolls against the stillness of the night, and we listen. It is the voice of Africa bringing memories that do not exist in our minds or in our hearts — perhaps not even in our blood. It is out of time, but it is there, and it spans a chasm whose other side we cannot see."
I’ve been on a horse only on rare occasions, but Markham’s admiration for this noble creature is contagious. She strikes out on her own to train racehorses after her father’s farm fails and he quits Africa for Peru. What courage this young woman must have had to gallop away on her Pegasus from all she’d known since the age of four, to a place where she must start anew. It is while living in Molo that she will later embrace a new passion – flying.
"The dooryard of Nairobi falls into the Athi Plains. One night I stood there and watched an aeroplane invade the stronghold of the stars. It flew high; it blotted some of them out; it trembled their flames like a hand swept over a company of candles."
Thus began a new love affair with the airplane. Speaking of love affairs, you will not glean much from this memoir. While Markham may mention these men, often with fondness, we don’t really get any juicy tidbits in that department. You’ll have to look elsewhere for that gossip. You can assume from her writing and from a little research that Tom Black was one of these lovers, however. Under the training of Tom Black, Markham earned her ‘B’ license, allowing her to make a career of her latest obsession. I was amazed at all she accomplished. Apparently, she was the only female pilot in Africa at the time, from aiding safaris to making medical emergency runs, and everything in between. Eventually she became the first person to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean solo from west to east, thus the title of this memoir.
What a tremendous life she led! I’ll admit that there are naturally portions of her story that she did not touch on. I could not deem her perfect, yet my admiration for her joy for living and risktaking is quite genuine. I’d recommend this memoir to anyone that loves gorgeous writing, Africa, and strong, daring women. Beryl Markham will teach you to make the very most out of your dreams and opportunities!
"I learned what every dreaming child needs to know — that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it."
I do not read many autobiographies but when I do I seem to hit the jackpot. West with the Night is the memoir of amazing Beryl Markham. In case you did not know (I didn’t), she was the first solo female to fly the Atlantic from East to West.
Beryl was an English woman who grew up in Kenya together with his father on a farm. She was raised among Masai warriors, learned to hunt with a spear and to understand animals. Her first major passion were horses not flying. At 18 she was the first woman horse trainer in Africa. As you can see , she had an extraordinary, exciting life, one we cannot even comprehend but we can learn so much from reading about.
Africa for her was home and her love for the continent is obvious from the poetic praise and the emotion she manages to transmit whenever she writes about the subject.
Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer’s paradise, a hunter’s Valhalla, an escapist’s Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one. To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just ‘home.’ It is all these things but one thing — it is never dull.
Beryl was a person who did not like to hold still, she felt the need to change and to find new provocations. She starts flying with the help of a friend and, after she buys a plane, she uses her new hobby as a mean for living, giving up on horses. At some point Africa becomes too small for her and decides that it was time for her to go back to her place of birth, England.
Africa is never the same to anyone who leaves it and returns again. It is not a land of change, but it is a land of moods and its moods are numberless. It is not fickle, but because it has mothered not only men, but races, and cradled not only cities, but civilizations — and seen them die, and seen new ones born again — Africa can be dispassionate, indifferent, warm, or cynical, replete with the weariness of too much wisdom
I was enticed by her adventures but also by her extraordinary writing skills. Some chapters really warmed me inside with the poetry, sage and beautiful insights. The chapters written from a horse point of view will always remain in my memory.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, it is literature and autobiography in the same time, a story of Africa and a story of the beauty and loneliness of flying. I feel honoured and privileged to have had the opportunity to read this remarkable memoir. Beryl Markham’s story is outstanding enough by itself. What makes this memoir even more spectacular is the writing. On the cover is a quote from Ernest Hemingway: “[Markham] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers . . . It really is a bloody wonderful book.”
Never mind that when he wrote his comments in a letter to a friend the ellipsis contained some typically misogynistic and foul references to Beryl Markham as a woman, the bare fact of his accolade is perhaps even more powerful because of it, wrung out of his wrinkled heart through a mangle stronger than his bias.
Under the authentic and authoritative voice of Ms Markham’s prose, Africa in all its splendor and terror came alive for me in a way that set me down into its myriad contrasts and changes and variances both heart and soul. I can’t think of a way I could possibly read this book without feeling completely that I was there and witnessing it all at first hand – living it myself.
This memoir is now historical, of course, and as happens with much of history there was no such thing as political correctness. Even though there was one aspect involving Ms Markham’s flying career that is now so obviously illegal, back then it wasn’t; and I am certainly not about to flog the flyers of the day for actions taken in a context where it was normal and even desirable at the time .
There were times while reading this novel that I was moved to tears; there were even more times where I was enraptured by sheer, undiluted wonder. Ms Markham arrived in Africa when she was 4 years old, and as she grew up, some of her oldest friends were the African children she played with and learned from and even went hunting with. She accomplished more adult feats in her first few years of life in Africa than most people could claim in a lifetime. The sense of wonder doesn’t end there, for this woman led an astonishing life of adventure and achievement unparalleled at the time – and possibly for all time.
This story is one of the best, most absorbing reads I have had the good fortune to encounter. This is a book to be experienced and savoured.
Some food for thought:
“Nairobi has a frontier cut to its clothes and wears a broadbrimmed hat, but it tends an English garden; it nurtures the shoots of custom grafted from the old tree. It dresses for dinner, passes its portwine clockwise, and loves a horserace.”
“I could never tell where inspiration begins and impulse leaves off. I suppose the answer is in the outcome. If your hunch proves a good one, you are inspired; if it proves bad, you are guilty of yielding to thoughtless impulse.”
“And his were solemn dreams. They were solemn dreams and in time he made them live. Tom Black is not a name that ever groped for glory in a headline or shouldered other names aside for space to strut in. It can be found in the drier lists of men who figured flights in terms of hours or days, instead of column inches.”
“If a man has any greatness in him, it comes to light, not in one flamboyant hour, but in the ledger of his daily work.” Tom Black was her flying teacher, her mentor and her friend right through until his death.
“I am incapable of a profound remark on the workings of destiny. It seems to get up early and then go to bed very late, and it acts most generously toward the people who nudge it off the road whenever they meet it.”
“A word grows to a thought – a thought to an idea – an idea to an act. The change is slow, and the Present is a sluggish traveller loafing in the path Tomorrow wants to take.” I was very pleasantly surprised at the magical prose and window into worlds of East Africa provided by this memoir. Markham is an interesting historical figure for her achievements in aviation and adventuring. For example, she was the first female bush pilot in the continent, the first woman to complete an EasttoWest nonstop crossing of the Atlantic (ending into a nearcrash landing in Cape Breton), and a legendary race horse trainer. And she was a bit of a celebrity among the glitterati that set down or passed through Naibobi in her time, a circle that included the famous Swedish safari hunter Baron Blixen and his wife Karen, who wrote “Out of Africa” under the name Dinesen. I understand that more about these connections is to be found in Maclean’s “Circling the Sun.” This book is more on the line of essays that showcase Markham’s skills in portraying her developing vision on life as shaped by her growing up and early adulthood in British East Africa, now Kenya.
The book is looking out rather than looking inward typical of true autobiography. There is nothing on her love life and little in the way of details on her family, schooling, or usual troubles with growing up. Instead, the book seems as if it was written to address these issues:
Why she likes the wilderness of nature in Africa
Why she loves the African people
Why she loves horses
Why she loves flying
Within the framework of that structure it’s wonderful. Somehow she is a natural at storytelling, pacing, and lyricism without purple patches, all without the benefit or corrupting influences of an MFA program that writers are nurtured on these days. She grew up at a fairly remote horse farm managed by her father with no one but tribal children to play with, members of the Nandi and Masai peoples. In growing subsistence gardens, the encounters with serious wildlife on their land, such as lions and elephants, made it clear how tenuous the invasion of civilization from the edges into the heart of the continent was at the time. Crops easily getting trampled by wild beasts is one thing, but the description of saving her poor dog from death after it was hauled away by a leopard made a pretty personal and harrowing story. In another exciting story, she recounts how as a girl of six or so she was mauled by an old lion she got too close to on their property, but still felt bad when her heroic father put it down by rifle. Here are a couple of choice quotes on the wildness of nature she grew up with:
You could expect many things of God at night when the campfire burned before the tents. You could look through and beyond the veils of scarlet and see shadows of the world as God first made it and hear the voices of the beasts He put there. It was a world as old as Time, but as new as Creation's hour had left it.
Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer's paradise, a hunter's Valhalla, an escapist's Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one. To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just 'home.
There are significant sections about horses, both in riding and caring for them as a girl and in training them for racing as a young adult after her father moved away due to a serious drought. I actually didn’t think there was enough focus on this subject to render a clear picture of what the work really involved. Perhaps the topic didn’t fit that well with the themes more specific to Africa. Much more coverage is spent on her relationship with a specific dog, Buller, possibly a cross between an English sheep dog and a bull terrier. A constant companion, he showed his mettle on a boar hunt Markham took as a young teen with her Nandi friend Kibii and his father, using spears in the traditional way. I felt bad about the implications of cruelty in Buller getting terribly ravaged in bringing down a speared boar along with the native’s dogs, but dogs were bred and raised for just that purpose, so I had to glide over distaste on that score. Her ability to read her favorite animals and see their nobility and courage was uplifting. Here is her thoughts on their affinity with their obviously competent wild brethren:
To an eagle or to an owl or to a rabbit, man must seem a masterful and yet a forlorn animal; he has but two friends. In his almost universal unpopularity he points out, with pride, that these two are the dog and the horse. He believes, with an innocence peculiar to himself, that they are equally proud of this alleged confraternity. He says, 'Look at my two noble friendsthey are dumb, but they are loyal.' I have for years suspected that they are only tolerant.
As a budding bush pilot it was hard for Markham to resist delivering services to wealthy game hunters for their safaris. She makes a delightful portrait of a major customer, Baron Blixen, that touches on the absurdity of his passion infused with admiration on his skills and style (no hint of any possible love relationship). Thankfully, it was an incredibly difficult challenge for hunters to bag a big bull elephant, and Markham lets slip some relief that Blixen refrained from a killing shot when days of effort finally brought them close. Here is some of her critical thoughts on elephant hunting:
It is absurd for a man to kill an elephant. It is not brutal, it is not heroic, and certainly it is not easy; it is just one of those preposterous things that men do like putting a dam across a great river, one tenth of whose volume could engulf the whole of mankind without disturbing the domestic life of a single catfish.
I suppose if there were a part of the world in which mastodon still lived, somebody would design a new gun, and men, in their eternal impudence, would hunt mastodon as they now hunt elephant. Impudence seems to be the word. At least David and Goliath were of the same species, but, to an elephant, a man can only be a midge with a deathly sting.
It is clear that Markham respects the wisdom and integrity she found in native peoples whom she befriended and learned from. At one rare point she touches eloquently on the social issues of race relations and colonialism:
What a child does not know and does not want to know of race and colour and class, he learns soon enough as he grows to see each man flipped inexorably into some predestined groove like a penny or a sovereign in a banker's rack. Kibii, the Nandi boy, was my good friend. Arab Ruta (the same boy grown to manhood), who sits before me, is my good friend, but the handclasp will be shorter, the smile will not be so eager on his lips, and though the path is for a while the same, he will walk behind me now, when once, in the simplicity of our nonage, we walked together.
I sought the book out with a special interest in the flying. For conveying the wonderful sense of solo flying in the wilderness, her poetic descriptions were marvelous, giving me much of the same pleasures I got from SaintExupery’s superb “Wind, Sand, and Stars.” Her early experiences and bush pilot episodes were more pleasurable for me that the later chapter on crossing the Atlantic. Here is a sample of some of my favorite passages:
We swung over the hills and over the town and back again, and I saw how a man can be master of a craft, and how a craft can be master of an element. I saw the alchemy of perspective reduce my world, and all my other life, to grains in a cup. I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. And I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to knowthat no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it,
Harmony comes gradually to a pilot and his plane. The wing does not want so much to fly true as to tug at the hands that guide it; the ship would rather hunt the wind than lay her nose to the horizon far ahead. She has a derelict quality in her character; she toys with freedom and hints at liberation.
Like night, the desert is boundless, comfortless and infinite. Like night, it intrigues the mind and leads it to futility. When you have flown halfway across a desert, you experience the desperation of a sleepless man waiting for dawn which only comes when the importance of it's coming is lost. You fly forever, weary with an invariable scene, and when you are at last released from its monotony, you remember nothing of it because there was nothing there.
There is some debate on how much her editor husband contributed to the writing, but her biographer reportedly defended the view of her as the true author (see Wiki). When it was published in 1942 it received little attention, but later praise by Hemingway let to its rediscovery and a wellattended second publication in 1983. So glad it came to my attention. Now I have a good perspective to approach the fiction of “Circling the Sun.”
This memoir was so lovingly written that I'm going to have to reread it to fully appreciate it.
Beryl Markham was born in England but moved to Kenya with her family when she was 4. She has amazing stories about surviving a lion attack, becoming a bush pilot, training racehorses, and flying solo across the Atlanticand she flew the difficult way, from east to west, against the wind. She is my favorite kind of woman to read about: she's tough and adventurous, but also romantic and sentimental.
I listened to this on audio, which was narrated well by Anna Fields (I also enjoyed her audio performance of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto), but Markham's prose was so lovely that I wish I had read this in print, lingering over the paragraphs and pages. Some of the long stories were occasionally confusing, and I think it would have been easier to follow with a print copy.
I don't recall how Beryl Markham first got on my radar, but suddenly she was hugely popular thanks to the new historical novel Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. I wanted to read Markham's own book first before checking out the fictional version, and I'm glad I did. Highly recommended, especially for those who like travel/adventure memoirs or stories about Africa.
"To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been toldthat the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brickwalled streets and the tyranny of clocks."
"We fly, but we have not 'conquered' the air. Nature presides in all her dignity, permitting us the study and the use of such of her forces as we may understand. It is when we presume to intimacy, having been granted only tolerance, that the harsh stick fall across our impudent knuckles and we rub the pain, staring upward, startled by our ignorance."
"To an eagle or to an owl or to a rabbit, man must seem a masterful and yet a forlorn animal; he has but two friends. In his almost universal unpopularity he points out, with pride, that these two are the dog and the horse. He believes, with an innocence peculiar to himself, that they are equally proud of this alleged confraternity. He says, 'Look at my two noble friendsthey are dumb, but they are loyal.' I have for years suspected that they are only tolerant."
"There are as many Africas as there are books about Africaand as many books about it as you could read in a leisurely lifetime. Whoever writes a new one can afford a certain complacency in the knowledge that his is a new picture agreeing with no one else's, but likely to be haugthily disagreed with by all those who believed in some other Africa. ... Being thus all things to all authors, it follows, I suppose, that Africa must be all things to all readers. Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer's paradise, a hunter's Valhalla, an escapist's Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one. To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just 'home." 4.5 Stars After reading Paula McLain's Circling The Sun I could not wait to read more about the adventurous life of Beryl Markham.Growing up in Kenya, this amazing and fearless lady was not only a wild animal hunter, horse trainer and accomplished pilot, she was also a great story teller and writer (IMHO) as evidenced in West With The Night.Skinning animals, running with the native hunting parties for wild boar, surviving a baboon attack in her room and a near death encounter with a lion are only some of the extraordinary stories you will find in this memoir. And, while I had hoped to learn more about the true facts of Beryl's relationship with Denys FinchHatton, the data is disappointingly not included here which will probably take me to yet another Markham novel in the near future.Excellent Read! (as for the rumors re. BM not actually writing this memoir........IGNORED!) 4,25 starsEnglish hardcoverI have dyslexiaWhat a lady, what an adventures in Kenya in the 20, 30s. One of my favoutite lady's in history. When I was in the libary someone hand me a copy of this book. An older man. "I think you have to read this novel." And surely it was. 😀🦋🌹🌷 This letter from Ernest Hemingway to Maxwell Perkins in 1942 sums up the book better than I ever could:
"Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West with the Night? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer's log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers. The only parts of it that I know about personally, on account of having been there at the time and heard the other people's stories, are absolutely true . . . I wish you would get it and read it because it is really a bloody wonderful book."Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway almost NEVER sang the praises of other writers, especially not his contemporaries. As result, his acclaim for Markham's work can be seen as high praise indeed.
I've read this book twice, and it truly is a wonderful read. Her writing is beautiful and seems nearly effortless. There is, however, quite a bit of controversy surrounding this book and its authorship. Some scholars believe that Markham did not actually write the book, that it was acutally penned by Raoul Schumacher, a scriptwriter and acquaintance of Markham's. Either way, the point is mootthis truly is "a bloody wonderful book."
One more item of note: notice the ellipsis in the last sentence of Hemingway's letter. I looked it up online to see if anything significant was omitted. The answer is YESin this part of the letter, Hemingway describes Markham as being a supreme bitch!! The West Explore Un Nouveau Pays Et Vis Des Aventures EtThe West N Attend Que Toi Explore Un Nouveau Pays Et Vis Des Aventures Et Duels Passionnants The West N Attend Que Toi Forum Wiki Nouvel E Mail D Activation Rgles Du Jeu Support Quipe Facebook Chronologie InnoGames Cherche Des TalentsheuresWest Idioms By The Free Dictionary Definition Of West In The Idioms Dictionary West Phrase What Does West Expression Mean Definitions By The Largest Idiom Dictionary What Does West Expression Mean West English French Dictionary WordReference West Southwest Adv Adverb Describes A Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Or Clause For Example, Come Quickly, Very Rare, Happening Now, Fall Down Between West And Southwest Ouest Sud Ouest Adj Adjectif Modifie Un Nom Il Est Gnralement Plac Aprs Le Nom Et S Accorde Avec Le Nom Ex Un Ballon Bleu, Une Balle Bleue En Gnral, Seule La Forme Au Masculin Singulier Est DonneThe West Discover New Lands And Experience The West Awaits Discover New Lands And Experience Exciting Adventures And Duels The West Awaits Forum Help Reconfirm E Mail Rules Support Team Facebook Timeline Update To VersionOnat Pm Keep Updated With The Western World Wikipedia The Western World Based On Samuel P Huntington SClash Of Civilizations In Turquoise Is Latin America, Which Is Either A Part Of The West Or A Distinct Civilization Intimately Related To The West And Descended From It According To Huntington Torn Countries Russia, Australia, Mexico And Turkey Are In The Process Of Joining Or Abandoning The West West Wikipdia Le Midwest Middle West Des Tats Unis D Amrique, Zone Comprenant Les Tats De La Cte Des Grands Lacs, Et La Majeure Partie Du Corn Belt Qui Dbouche Sur Les Grandes Plaines, Par L Ouest Le Mid West, Rgion De L Australie Occidentale Le South West, Rgion De L Australie Occidentale West Corporation We Connect We Deliver We Are West Telecom Services Connects People And Unites Networks By Delivering Interconnection Services For All Types Of Providers, Including Wireless, Wireline, Cable And Voice Over Internet Protocol VoIP We Operate A Next Generation National Network, Providing Carrier Grade Interconnections, Reducing Costs And Merging Traditional Telecom, Mobile And IP Technologies Onto A Common, Efficient Backbone Ecouter La Radio En Direct Hit West Hit West En Coute Gratuite Premire Hit Radio Dans L Ouest Ihaia West Wikipdia Ihaia West, N LeaotHavelock North Nouvelle Zlande , Est Un Joueur De Rugby XV No Zlandais Voluant Principalement Au Poste De Demi D Ouverture Il Volue Avec Le Stade Rochelais En TopdepuisCarrire En Club Ihaia West Commence SaThe West Descubra Novas Terras E Viva IncrveisThe West Espera Por Voc Descubra Novas Terras E Viva Incrveis Aventuras E Duelos The West Espera Por Voc Frum Ajuda Confirmao De E Mail Regras Suporte Equipe Facebook Cronologia Nome De Usurio Senha Identificao Automtica