True friends refer you to amazing books. Caitlin Muir, you rock. This was perhaps one of the best book recommendations ever.
Ernest Hemingway said it best about this book (as he knew of Beryl Markham personally): “…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.”
Horse trainer, pilot and adventurer, Beryl Markham is a fascinating woman and an incredible writer. Living in Africa since the age of 4, she defied all popular images of a woman of the 20s-30s. Lion attacks, boar hunts, elephant scouting, horse races, rescues by air — it is staggering to know this book only covers a fraction of her life.
In 1983, when this manuscript was rediscovered, she became famous for her solo trans-atlantic flight in 1936 and the center of scandal for her wild life. She would live out her life as a renown horse trainer in Africa amidst questions of her memoir’s true authorship and the shadows of years of affairs and intrique.
None of this matters as you hold West with the Night in your hands. This book whisks you away and envelops you into another time and place. Her descriptions of animal attacks, of high-stakes races, of late-night flights will leave your knuckles white. If you’re up for an adventure, check it out.