Travel Betty

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Travel Betty Recommends West With The Night As A Good Summer Read

July 22nd, 2007 · No Comments

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When a book is reviewed by Ernest Hemingwayas feeling, in comparison, completely ashamed of himself as a writer. And when that book is written by someone who is an aviator by trade, not even a writer. And when that aviator is a woman who during the 1930s becomes the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. And when that woman can count surviving not one, but two lion attacks in Kenya before the age of 13. And when, at the age of 17, that woman goes on to become one of the most skilled horse racing trainers in all of Africa before becoming one of the most successful pilots of her day. Well, then, that’s a book that’s worth reading.

This is not your traditional outsider-in-Africa-wow-isn’t-life-different-here travelogue. For one thing, Beryl Markham is not an outsider. Her healthy reverence and deep knowledge of the land proves she is just as much a part of Africa as the Maruni tribe she engages with. For another thing, this isn’t a travelogue. In West With The Night, Africa is but a single (albeit bold) personality in a menagerie of wild and wise characters. Her descriptions of old Africa before backpackers and aid workers and even suitable roadways made me nostalgic for a time I never knew. But ultimately this is a story about her life. And it just happens to be set in Kenya.

So if you’re looking for a hyper-engaging book to carry you through the rest of the summer and you’re already done with all 9,649 pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which I just started yesterday!), this is it. Go on, I dare you not to feel the breath of those two lions on the backs of your heels as you devour Markham’s prose.

Tags: Books

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