Novel of the week: Great Circle
Maggie Shipstead’s new novel is an ‘intricate and rich’ tale of a pioneering aviator
Maggie Shipstead’s “daringly ambitious” new novel tells the story of a fictional aviator named Marian Graves, and her attempt, in 1950, to become the first person to fly round the world, said Stephanie Merritt in The Observer. Not only does it take in the history of early 20th century aviation, but it also covers “Prohibition, the Great Depression and the Second World War”.
And as if that weren’t enough, Shipstead throws in a parallel 21st century narrative, said Erica Wagner in The Guardian: that of a “Hollywood ingénue” who is trying to make a film about Marian. The result is an “intricate and rich” novel that is as “beautifully built as it is elegantly written”.
At times this “sprawling epic” – loosely inspired by Amelia Earhart – struck me as “too long a journey to make”, said Melissa Katsoulis in The Times. Yet so vivid is Shipstead’s writing – and so well-drawn are the parallels between the two central characters – that she always “pulls it back together”. If you like “full immersion in a minutely described world”, then this book is “worth sticking with”.
Doubleday 608pp £16.99; The Week Bookshop £13.99
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