Cover Image: Great Circle

Great Circle

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Member Reviews

Slow-paced and dragging, Great Circle just didn't do it for me. The premise was interesting, but I felt that Shipstead struggled to make the characters engaging and dimensional. The plot fell rather flat, and the story telling style felt more like a school biography than a fictional novel. It was readable, but not one that I would recommend.
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I really could not get into this novel, I tried, but I was not interested in the storyline and the character development was slow.
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I knew I wanted to read this because I really enjoyed both of Shipstead’s previous novels, but the length was keeping me from rushing into it. It’s a 600 page novel about a female pilot in the early 1900s and the 21st century actress who’s hired to play her in a biopic. After it made the Booker Prize longlist and a few trusted readers said the audio* version was well-done, I decided to go that route and I loved it.
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Epic book. The fictional story of Marian Graves, a woman aviator. It goes back and forth between the life of an actress, who is going to portray Graves, and Graves.

When I say Epic, I mean a tome of a book. Over 600 pages, so not a quick read. Intend to spend a few days getting through the book. 

Though it is huge, it still was good to me. It showed the prejudice against women during the 1930's thru 1950's.  It's a love story, an adventure and historical.

The only thing I didn't like was the actress. I just thought she was petty. A lot of stuff that happened to her, she brought it on herself.

Thanks to Netgalley, and Knof Doubleday Publishing Group for the Kindle Version of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I really wanted to enjoy this novel because it was about a female aviator. However, I would hav e enjoyed it if it focused on a linear format and no modern storyline. Thus is because it was hard to follow along. Still, I recommend this for fans of Circle in the Sun!
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I was intrigued by the premise of The Great Circle, but unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations.  I read about 150 out of 580 pages before deciding to DNF this novel.

While I typically enjoy a novel with multiple timelines, I found the opening of this one confusing.  There were too many time shifts and it was difficult at first to figure out how they all connected.

From the part that I read, it seemed like quite a bit of the narrative wasn't necessary and I didn't feel like slogging through another 400 pages to finally make it to Marian's final flight.
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Marion Graves and her twin brother Jamie were only six weeks old when their first brush with notoriety occurred.  They were passengers on the cruise ship their father captained when it ran into trouble and capsized.  Many died including their mother and their father was shamed since he chose to save the babies rather than be the last man on board.  He was imprisoned and the twins were sent to Montana to be raised by his brother.
The uncle had no idea how to raise children and was an alcoholic.  He basically let the children run free and raise themselves.  Marian fell in love with flying when some barnstormers came through town.  She was determined to do whatever it took to learn how to fly, dropping out of school at fourteen so she could earn money.  Marian married young to a bootlegger who wanted to control her.  Marian flew the liquor into the States for him but eventually left him to be free.  She ran to Alaska and took another name, living under the radar and flying visitors and supplies into small Alaskan towns.  

Later she was a pilot in World War II, one of the women who flew transport craft from the factory to where they were needed.  She met Ruth and Eddie, a couple she grew close to.  Ruth was also a pilot and Eddie was a navigator.  After the war, she was at loose ends until she met with a woman of great fortune who offered to sponsor Marian's dream.  That dream was to fly around the world, flying over the North and South poles, a flight that had never been made.  Marian could not be dissuaded and took off with Eddie as her navigator.  They never made it and their bodies were never found although the last sighting of them had been in Antarctica.  

Now, one hundred years later, an actress is hired to portray Marian in a film about her life.  The actress, Haley Baxter, has a fellow feeling for Marian.  Haley's parents had been killed in a plane crash when she was a small child and she was also raised by an uncle.  Haley became a child star in Hollywood and then when a scandal broke, she was hounded off her movie and television career.  She needs a comeback badly and the film about Marian might just provide it.  But as she reads the script, starts to make the film and researches Marian's life, she thinks she has found out some of Marian's biggest secrets.  What should she do with this new information?

Maggie Shipstead has written a novel that is fascinating about a woman who won't be boxed into anyone else's thoughts about what she should do.  The novel has been nominated for both the Man Booker Prize and the Women's Prize For Fiction.  Marion is a mysterious woman, determined to do whatever she chooses rather than following society's strictures.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.
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Great Circle is a dual timeline saga of two women: One a pioneering aviatrix of the early 20th century; the other the actress portraying her in a biopic in the present day.

This is an ambitious book and there is certainly much to praise here especially the quality of the writing which whilst being richly descriptive is never overblown. However, the length of the book is exhausting, there are sections which I think distract the attention from the main characters thus overwhelming the really good premise.

The sections concerning Marian and Jamie are really good. The characters of the twins is vividly portrayed and they couldn’t be more different. Marion is a thrill seeker whose life is colourful and varied, she’s courageous and brave. Whereas Jamie is a shy, sensitive and talented artist. I love reading about Marion’s life which is absolutely fascinating taking us on a circular journey from life growing up in Montana, through the Prohibition years with bootlegging and marriage, to Alaska, the war years and finally the polar quest and much of this is riveting. I like how she ventures boldly into a male dominated aviator world especially in World War 2.

If this book was only focused on Marian, and removed the whole ‘current day’ portion of the story, I would have loved this a lot more. At no point did I care about Hadley.
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First off thank you to Knopf Double Day Publishing group and NetGalley for this digital ARC

Great Circle is a A beautiful book!, It is an interesting combination of historical fiction and modern-day Hollywood vibes. I almost gave up on this book because the characters are hard to follow (there's a lot of them). However, I advise sticking it out because these characters will leave a lasting impression!
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I am sorry for the inconvenience but I don’t have the time to read this anymore and have lost interest in the concept. I believe that it would benefit your book more if I did not skim your book and write a rushed review. Again, I am sorry for the inconvenience.
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Sometimes these long reads really intimidate me, but having an e-book version really helped! I enjoyed this.
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I admired the epic nature and structure of this novel, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was frequently bored while listening to it. I would have liked more connection between the two threads. Like many audio books, it may be a better experience to actually read it.
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A beautiful, interesting combination of historical fiction and modern-day Hollywood. I almost gave up on this book, as the beginning is a confusing whirlwind of many different characters, but I'm so glad I stuck it out. I'll be thinking about Marian, Hadley, and the other intriguing characters for a long time.
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This novel has it all.. shipwrecks, the depression, bootlegging, whore houses, world war, and much more.
This is a dual timeline, there is also in current time, an actress named Hadley who is playing Marian in a film.
I am glad that the Hadley portions were not long and that the book was mostly Marian’s life because those were the great parts of the book!
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At its essence, Great Circle depicts the growth process of two women who are seeking to defeat cultural expectations to create lives that are truly their own.  The first woman -- Marian Graves -- knows that her destiny is to be a pilot and she is driven to be the first pilot to literally create the Greatest Circle by circumnavigating the globe via the North and South Poles.  The second woman-- Hadley Baxter -- is an actor seeking to break out of insipid teen movie roles (think Kristen Stewart in the Twilight films) by playing the lead in a movie film based on Marian Grave's life.  The first half of the novel drags, but don't give up on it.  The second half of the novel really picks up by focusing on the life of Marian Graves as an adult.  The story of Hadley Baxter fades away to the point that her primary purpose appears to be imparting information she gained from others while filming the movie to let us know what really happened to Marian.  This portion of the novel really held my interest and contains a number of poignant scenes that moved me to ugly cry.  4.5 out of 5.0 stars.  Highly recommended.          

Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Publishing for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Just a warning that this is a 600 page epic story about the determination of Marion Graves to become an aviator, and her search to break records and be the best pilot.  It was slow at the beginning, but picked up momentum.  I really enjoyed the book because of the interesting life that Marion and her brother live.  Her strong intuition and ability to manipulate each situation to benefit her dream, yet still knew exactly what she would owe in return was inspiring.   

Marion worked hard and used her determination to flying in a great circle from pole to pole in 1950 along with her navigator Eddie Bloom.  In between her storyline, Hadley Baxter was casted to play Marian in a film a century later.  Both women had to work against the odds and prejudices to get what they wanted.

Thank you NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for allowing me to read this book for an honest review.
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I had to give up on this one after a little over a quarter of it (which equates to a solid 150-200ish pages), which was a great disappointment. The pacing was just far too slow, and the writing and plot were not compelling enough to keep me engaged in it. The blurbs all promised this would be epic in scope, but to me, it felt like it wasn't going much of anywhere. I will still provide a 3-star rating because I think there's a good chance it might improve with the rest of the book, but given the rate at which I've been falling into book slumps lately, it was not worth it for me to keep pushing through a story that felt like it was pretty stagnant. Literary fiction is usually something I love, but this was a miss.

(As an aside, I feel a little less guilty about DNFing/leaving this review, as I got the title when it was on Read Now, not as a directly approved request.)
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Thank you Netgalley for an ARC. This is a big, bold beautiful tale filled with complicated relationships and spanning time periods. I believed every character, though rooted for Marion most of all. I've purchased the book for my school and a staff member is currently reading it. Great for historical fiction fans as well as for anyone who loves strong female protagonists.
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Unfortunately I only made it through about 20% of this book. It was very slow, and I just couldn't see how it would pick up. I've heard it's great but didn't want to invest the time to read such a long book.
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A complex story involving the lives of 2 women over 80 years apart.  Marion Graves an aviator and Hadley Baxter an actress lives were filled with overcoming childhood traumas.  It’s a blend of history and fiction.  I enjoyed the book.  However, I felt it could be cut down from the 600+ pages.

Thank you #NetGalley, #RandomHousePublishing and #MaggieShipstead for the advance readers copy for my honest review.
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