West with the Night

West with the Night

by Beryl Markham

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West with the Night 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
BiblioShan More than 1 year ago
I think this is one of the most beautifully written biography out there. Aside for the fact that Markham's life unfolded like a movie even as she was living it, her writing is simply wonderful. At times, as when she describes how her best friend's father died (see pg 101) she brought me to tears.

In fact, its such a lovely book, I'm willing to overlook some of her more, shall we say...James Fry-like tendencies. For example, while relating the story of her flying lessons and the affair she had with her instructor, she somehow forgot to mention that he was married to Isak Denisen at the time. Like I said, I'm willing forgive-particularly in light of the extraordinary life she lived and in light of Hemingway's utter respect for her writing. Comparing his prose to hers, he once told a friend that she made him feel like an amateur carpenter who, given some nails and planks, could cobble together a passable pig pen.
ElaineCasey More than 1 year ago
This inspirational novel is a memoir of Beryl Markham, a pilot, horse trainer, and a woman living her life to the utmost potential. She grew up in the African lands, learning many life lessons through her interaction with animals. Beryl was intrigued by the flying ability of her friend Tom Black, and was further inspired to become the first person ever to fly east to west across the Atlantic from London to North America. The major themes in this book include but are not limited to adventure, persistence, and the ability to adapt and accept things into ones life. Her life as the book depicts it is one starting and ending in adventure, never skipping a beat of life along the way. She was a woman who grew up next to the natives of Africa, hunting beside tribal leaders, being attacked by wild lions, and killing the dangerous hogs of the region with her own spear. When training one of the many horses in her lifetime, Beryl learned persistence, which was a necessity in this stubborn horses training. She was bit, kicked, and thrown across the stall of Royal Exile. Tolerance and patience was imperative in educating this wild beast, and she was successful in bringing his high, stubborn head back down to earth. As a white woman in Africa, Beryl was faced with the life long racism between whites and blacks. Beryl states in her moving novel, "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 bankers rack" (Markham 149). I enjoyed how Beryl incorporated aspects of reflection of her childhood into her calm and relaxing rides on her horse she trained from birth, Pegasus. I would have enjoyed it if this book or weaved in an element of racism deeper than what they incorporated in the book. This book is recommended to all young adults and adults of any age. Not only does this book keep you turning the page, it teaches lessons and opens the readers' eyes to what it was like living in Africa, being a woman, and even flying. I rate this book overall to be five stars. I feel I am a different person after reading this book now, able to look at the world through the eyes of many different aspects. Beryl Markham was a moving woman and wrote a book accurately depicting Africa, horses, discipline, patience, fear and joy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a child growing up with her father in Africa, Beryl Markham faced down lions and wild boar. As an adult she trained race horses before learning to fly airplanes and becoming a bush pilot. Eventually she became the first pilot, female or male, to fly west with the night and cross the Atlantic ocean solo from Europe to North America. Markham brings the African bush to life with stories of boar hunts and elephant hunts. Of horse races and airplane flights over desert terrain. She lived a courageous life in a time when girls were only supposed to wear dresses and play with dolls and flying airplanes was a man's job. Highly inspirational to read! There's so much to talk about in mother-daughter book clubs or any book club. How was Markham's life different from so many of the girls in her time? How would her life have been different if her mother was also in Africa raising her? This book is beautifully written I've read it three times and each reading I glean more and more from it. I highly recommend it for anyone in high school or older.
Pablosmom More than 1 year ago
Markham has a command of language and detail that drives this fascinating memoir. I have been to Kenya and she paints an accurate picture of the landscape. The story focuses on her inner life, so I read a biography to help fill in some gaps, such as why her mother is never mentioned in this book. Still, the story is fascinating for the writing, and Markham's tenacity. She was a strong woman who excelled in a man's world through hunting, horse training, flying, and as proven here, writing. The book's meditative nature is reminiscent of Antoine de saint-exupery's Wind, Sand, and Stars.
dlcwoody More than 1 year ago
This book was so enlightening and uplifting. To be a white woman in Africa and then learn to fly a plane was extra ordinary. Beryl Markham was very inspiring I wish I could have met her. What an excellent choice when picking up something to read to enlighten, education and entertain.
Guest More than 1 year ago
OK, forget Earnest Hemmingway touts this as a finer book that any of his own, (that alone should be enough )Only 'his' autobiography, A Moveable Feast, comes anywhere near. To not read this book is to deny yourself one of readings' greatest pleasures. It is so perfect on a multitude of diverse planes. First, a story of one of the most intrepid women to walk the earth. Then it provides unparalled insight into the Aftica that existed just before our lives began. Then be overwhelemed by her insight into the magnificent animals. Some like the haunting revelation of female elephants' efforts to hide their bull elephant's prized tusk from the view of white hunters flying above. This may change you forever. This is the finest biography ever written. I have given this book with joy to every women I know, and each has fallen in love with it. Hence my reference to Beatty
MelanieSp More than 1 year ago
Very well-written memoir of an early pioneer in aviation. It tells of her growing up in Africa on a ranch, her journey to find her place and finding it in flying.Detailed, lyrical descriptions of landscapes and adventures that take you to the edge, without pushing them too far. I highly recommend this enthralling, beautifully written tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
West with Night, is a must read on every bookshelf about aviation. It is more than a flying book, it is a great history of Africa during the days of foriegn control. A must read for any aviator. I also reccomdend FLYING NORTH SOUTH EAST AND WEST by Captain Terry Reece, another good read of later operations from the North Pole to Africa.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading Beryl Markham's book is the reason that I went to Kenya for the summer of 1999. Of course, that Kenya and its social scene no longer exist, nor do the animals in such plentiful amounts, but I could easily see how she fell so in love with the country. I got so wrapped up in her stories of growing up in Kenya, playing with Masai children, and becoming the first female pilot in Africa. It follows closely the social scene that existed then, though I found it interesting the Karen Blixen was not mentioned, yet Bror Blixen was. Clearly Dana, the one giving this fine novel a review, has a lot of learning to do, because West with the Night is one of the best books ever written. Kudos to her teacher for making it assigned reading.
Stbalbach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lifetime memoirs by British-born Kenyan author Beryl Markham (1902-86) about her frontier life growing up in colonial Kenya. An intimate portrait of a romantic, fragile and ephemeral time in Africa. Although Markham was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west, she is best known today as the author of this book because of its amazing writing. Hemingway (who knew Markham fairly well) said "she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers." National Geographic Magazine rated it #8 in its "Top-100 Adventure Books". Many of the real-life characters seen in the movie "Out of Africa" are discussed here, including how the character played by Robert Redford dies, and how Markham almost died with him.A recent "tell all" book came out in 1993 "The Lives of Beryl Markham" by Errol Trzebinski - it contends "West with the Night" was ghost written by her third husband, who was a Hollywood ghost writer. It also says Markham was sexually promiscuous and slept with many/most of the males mentioned in the book. Maybe. Maybe not. It's easy to get caught up in the drama and stories of the Kenyan colonialists. The reality is sometimes less attractive then the romantic mythology.
Sandydog1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hemmingway loved her writing style and I did too. Delightful mix of flowery Edwardian prose and homespun, lyrical Swahili storytelling. Markham's beautiful memoir covers her African girlhood (let's just say there are several very, very close encounters with lions), horse racing career, airborne bush rescues and scouting for elephant safaris and of course, her solo flight across the Atlantic. (She mentions none of her steamy romances, marital or otherwise.)
windexcalm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A slow ponderous start but the book winds up to a good pace around the middle. Markham describes a classic British East Africa; of horse races and safaris for ivory, aeroplanes and malaria, good dogs and friends lost in the war.
gbower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is hard to decide whether the best part of this book is the writing or the story. On the first page Markham claims to be no weaver but I disagree. She is a marvelous weaver of words creating pictures of Africa and the time in which she lived. I have read and reread several of the chapters and am hungry for more of her writing and her adventures.
msf59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Markham landed in the record books (and a bog in Novia Scotia) for being the first person to fly non-stop from England to North America, but in her self-effacing style, itonly warrants a chapter or so in her thrilling memoir. She arrived in East Africa, at four years old and quickly adapted to this wild, exciting landscape. She learns to hunt and assists her father in raising racehorses. She is a scrappy youth and somehow survives a lion attack. Markham describes an amazing array of adventures, including a dangerous boar hunt, a breath-taking horse race, which involved both a mare and stallion, she helped rear, a near fatal meeting with an angry bull elephant and many more wonderful tales. She was also a bush pilot and good friends with the hunter Bror Blixen, who was married to Karen Blixen, also known as Isak Dinesen. Markham tells this all in beautiful prose, each word selected with exquisite detail. I listened to this on audio book and it was read by the respected actress Julie Harris, who did a remarkable job. Highly recommended!
KAzevedo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
East Africa of the early 1900s comes alive in the writing of this memoir of the early life of an unconventional woman, Beryl Markham. The writing beautifuly evokes the wildness of colonial Africa that she experiences as a child on her father's ranch, claimed from the bush. She learns of raising and training race horses from her father, hunting and African culture from her native playmates and flying from an early bush pilot. She tells stories of her remarkable exploits, but it is the land, the wildlife, the horses, and the people she knows that are exalted. This passage is about the lake at Nakuru, where she trains horses:"The shores of its lake are rich in silence, lonely with it, but the monotonous flats of sand and mud that circle the shallow water are relieved of dullness, not by only an occasional bird or a flock of birds or by a hundred birds; as long as the day lasts Nakuru is no lake at all, but a crucible of pink and crimson fire - each of its flames, its million flames, struck from the wings of a flamingo. Ten thousand birds of such exorbitant hue, caught in the scope of an eye, is a sight that loses credence in one's own mind years afterward. But ten thousand flamingos on Lake Nakuru would be a number startling in its insignificance, and a hundred thousand would barely begin the count."Such pictures are continually created as you read. It is only when she leaves Africa that I felt her language became somewhat stilted and forced, but it is a minor quible with a wonderful and exciting book.
scofer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic! I don't care if Beryl Markham wrote this or not (it is rumored that her third husband, a Hollywood ghostwriter, wrote the book). Beryl Markham's story is fascinating: from growing up in East Africa on her father's horse farm, to training race horses, to her time in Africa as a bush pilot tracking wild game from the air ... all culminating in her historic solo flight across the Atlantic from east to west. This book brings the ultimate forms of praise from me: (1) I could not put it down; and (2) I am now seeking out anything I can find out about this amazing, daring woman. No matter who wrote the book, the use of imagery is astounding. Highly recommended.
ShanLizLuv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beryl Markham was an extraordinary woman. Raised by her widower father in Africa, she moved easily through the world of the white Europeans into which she was born, but was the most comfortable with her African friends and their families. She became one of the first female: bush pilots, ranch owners, hunting guides, horse trainers...The list continues. She glosses over some less savory episodes in her life, a la James Frey, but her story is so compelling and so beautifully written that it is easy to forgive those lapses.
TizzzieLish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Based in Kenya, she flew all over Africa, was mauled by a lion, she was the first woman pilot given permission to fly from Africa to Europe. She writes in a delightful poetic style. An easy and enjoyable read.It is #8 on the National Geographic Adventure list of ¿The 100 greatest adventure books of all time¿
bfertig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
She really led an amazing life, and her prose writing was fantastic. Even when writing about something that could be otherwise really dull - monotonous flying in the middle of the night where there was little that she could see to describe was somehow magically transformed into a beautifully elegant reverie on life in Africa in the early to mid 1900s. Her perspective was so radically different from so many other accounts for so many reasons made this book feel both exotic and travel-worn. This is very much a memoir of selected events and times, not a chronological autobiography. Beryl Markham's life was so varied - with encounters with large wild animals, horse training and breeding and racing, flying to serve as a mail courier or safari scout or daredevil - she challenged so many norms. Her successes and even failures are marvelous accounts of pushing the boundary when even contemporary modern comforts (or even survival, in the case of safaris) were not guaranteed.
xuesheng on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a joy of a book! In "West with the Night," Beryl Markham tells the stories of her youth, culminating with her flight, referred to in the title, from England to North America.Her stories are amazing. Markham grew up in Kenya in the early 1900s--she and her father relocated there when she was four. Her father was a farmer and mostly a thoroughbred horse breeder and trainer. She learned to hunt from the tribal leaders living near the family's farm when she was just a girl. At 17 after her father went bankrupt and decided to move to Peru, she chose to stay in Africa and make her own way, which she did by becoming a horse trainer like her father. Finally, she was drawn to become a pilot and taught to fly by a man who would become a famous British pilot, Tom Black.I enjoyed Markham's writing and vivid descriptions of Africa and flying and of the people and animals that she was close to. There is a excerpt from a letter on the back cover of my book from Ernest Hemingway to his editor. He writes, "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 wish you would get it and read it because it is really a bloody wonderful book." High praise indeed!
gree on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great adventure read
ArtfulAnnie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books.
juniperSun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The African focus of the book was interesting, as was the childhood freedom Beryl enjoyed. She brings to life the Africans she grew up with.While I'm not a fan of flying, I enjoyed reading how she felt as a pilot. What the book doesn't explain is how she can switch from being so passionately engaged in horse-training, then drop it to become completely engrossed with flying.I rated it average because, like many British authors, there is a deliberateness about the writing style, all intellect, no heartfire showing even when talking about emotional or passionate issues. The chapter episodes are all of doing, and very little is said about her relationships outside of work.
brenzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I finished Beryl Markham¿s remarkable memoir and immediately had to know more about her. Who was this woman who was described by Ernest Hemingway in this way: ¿she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer¿.she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers.¿ High praise from some one who was not known to think highly of other writers. So why haven¿t I ever heard of her? Surprisingly, this was her only literary effort. And what an effort it was.Born in 1902, Markham reached back into her childhood, growing up in British East Africa, playing with native children, helping on her father¿s farm as she described her early years and, in detailed narrative, the enigma that is Africa:¿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---dull.¿(Page 8)We follow her life as she trains racehorses for a living, scouts the bush country for elephant, and delivers mail and passengers by airplane to the remote corners of Africa. So many times I found myself furiously marking passages because the writing was just staggeringly beautiful and eloquent.Markham was a woman who lived her life at a hundred miles an hour and wrote this memoir at the age of thirty-six and never another word before her death at eighty-six. To say her prose is lush would be an understatement but nothing prepared me for her solo flight from England to North America, across the North Atlantic, mostly at night, west into the prevailing wind:¿The fear is gone now---not overcome nor reasoned away. It is gone because something else has taken its place; the confidence and the trust, the inherent belief in the security of land underfoot---now this faith is transferred to my plane, because the land has vanished and there is no other tangible thing to fix faith upon. Flight is but momentary escape from the eternal custody of earth.¿ (Page 284)I was on the edge of my seat for the whole flight just as if I were sitting on the plane with her. The same as it was when she described the horserace where two horses she trained end up neck and neck at the wire. Oh, and when she described the savageness of the elephant hunt. Or the sorrow of the lion safari. I could go on and on but do yourself a big favor and pick this one up for a delicious read. Very highly recommended.
isabelx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Night flying over charted country by aid of instruments and radio guidance can still be a lonely business, but to fly in unbroken darkness without even the cold companionship of a pair of ear-phones or the knowledge that somewhere ahead are lights and life and a well-marked airport is more than lonely. It is at times unreal to the point where the existence of other people seems not even a reasonable probability. The hills, the forests, the rocks, and the plains are one with the darkness, and the darkness is infinite. The earth is no more your planet than a distant star - if a star is shining; the plane is your planet and you are its sole inhabitant. I like the fact that it is a memoir rather than a chronological autobiography. One story leads into another, with digressions thrown in as they occur to her, such as the time a leopard abducted her dog from the bottom of her bed. I also rather like the fact that Beryl Markham uses Swahili (presumably) words without explanation, and writes some passages in the present tense, as it seems to make it more immediate. She never mentions her mother (who went back to England shortly after the family moved to Kenya) once, and she does seem rather unlucky when it comes to being being attacked by animals!