Cover Image: Great Circle

Great Circle

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Member Reviews

First, I am a fan of Shipstead's work, so I don't come into this one unbiased. Like other reviewers, I found it a challenge to get into this long book at first. However, once I did, it was great. I do agree that it could have been a 100-200 pages shorter and still as effective. 

I enjoyed the dual storylines, shifting back and forth 100 years, and found both women interesting and compelling. The characters are a woman aviator and the actor chosen to portray her on film a century later. I quite liked both, but the more contemporary story wasn't quite as grabby as the earlier one. However, I do think that readers like me (I loved The Goldfinch and Byatt's The Children's Book) who are more into long stories that are more character than plot-driven, will like this one.
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I finished this book a few days ago but had to sit with my thoughts before writing this review.  Not because I didn’t like it, I loved it!  But it’s a huge time commitment - this is a big book.  Was it worth it was the question I kept asking myself and I’ve decided yes, it was absolutely worth the time.  Told in dual timelines, this is is the story of Marian Graves and her journey to become a pilot and a century later, the story of Hadley Baxter, a popular actress chosen to star in a film about Marian.  I did a combination of reading the ebook and listening to the audiobook.  Most reviews say they could have done without the present day storyline and if I had only read it in physical form I might agree.  However, Hadley on audio is a fabulous character.  She really comes to life.  There’s romance, drama, and something for everyone in this epic novel,

This was a Read with Jenna pick for the month of May.  I usually really like her picks.  But this was also short listed for the Booker prize and I usually don’t like the books that make that list.  I’m so glad I gave this a chance.
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I really enjoyed the story, writing and the characters. However, I have come to realize that somewhere around 400 pages or so, I am maxed out. I found myself skimming to get to the end. Maybe it’s my age but whew, I can’t do long anymore.
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Hadley Baxter has been cast to play the role of real life aviator, Marian Graves, a daring and adventure seeking pilot of the early 20th century. Graves, who disappeared in a much publicized flight over Antarctica, was a larger than life character. Hadley sees this role as her chance to break out of the stereotypical roles Hollywood has cast her in and becomes obsessed with learning as much as she can about the doomed flyer. There will be inevitable comparisons to Amelia Earhart, famous female pilot of the same era who also disappeared during a highly publicized flight. But this book, tells the story of two women, one hundred years apart who are held prisoner by society because of their gender. A sweeping, grand adventure to get lost in
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This book was a slow burn, but I'm happy I stuck with it. I typically enjoy long, sprawling stories that span decades of a character's life, and this definitely fit the bill. I was a little frustrated that there wasn't too much going on early on in the story, but towards the second half, I was hooked on these characters and curious how it would all end.
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What a book!  A veritable page-turner! It is vast in scope, covering multiple places over the globe, multiple fascinating and interwoven characters, key world events spanning 1920's to present day, featuring two very strong women and their inward & outward journeys through life.  You'd expect the author to be older and more seasoned to pull off such a multi-faceted work, but Maggie S is a young woman with a prior award winning book under her belt.  She actually traveled to the farflung places she wrote about in this book, so her descriptions are amazing, as are her writings on the innermost thoughts of her characters, who are deeply fleshed out.  A truly wonderful book with surprising twists and turns, as well as being a wonderful tribute to bold and adventurous women of every era.
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This is the story of 2 women..  One, Marian, who loves flying and wants nothing more than to fly.  And one, Hadley, who will play Marian in a movie.  The two women live 100 years apart, but their fates are tied together.  Hadley gets immersed completely in Marian's life and might just discover who she is.
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I always try my best to leave a review that is worth if the gratitude I feel for receiving an ARC copy of a book. While I am deeply appreciative to NetGalley for this copy, I am still in shock with how long it took me to get through this book. I found this story to brag in many places and the multiple timelines was a little back and forth. I am sure there are many people who will enjoy this book, and definitely see the intrigue, I do not think I was the intended audience.
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I tried to get into this book but it just couldn't keep my interest    I'm sure others will love the book.
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This was an okay book but not really my cup of tea. Easily forgettable and I just don’t find it interesting. Would still recommend to other people who particularly like this genre.
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Loved this brilliant immersive story, and we reviewed it on our Summer Reading episode of the podcast and also our upcoming Autumn reads show. We’ll be discussing it again for our Booker podcast in late October. Couldn’t love it more, a huge hit. Also reviewed on Instagram.
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This was a tome of a book—25 hours on audible. But the writing was magnificent and the story was beautiful. I loved how the two story lines intersected. This gave me all the feels of life and how one can never really know all the secrets and incredible journeys a person can experience in their lifetime. 
I will return for a more thorough review but this blew me away!
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I liked the idea of this book.  A sweeping story about a female aviator sounded amazing and at times I thought the book was great.  However, the length really got me.  At 600 pages the story definitely dragged in places and had me not wanting to finish. I think this would be great for someone that loves the chunkster books.
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Ambitious and expansive, this novel's ending packs a big punch. Although an entire book from Marian's perspective would have been enticing, the present storyline provided an extra lens to examine how we view notoriety, choice, and what stories we tell--both to ourselves and the ones we leave behind. Well worth the many hours swept up in Marian's world.
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Thank you NetGalley for the advanced reading copy.

This book is very long and could almost be 2 separate books or make one half of the story less detailed.

Marian and Jamie Graves are twins that survive a shipwreck as infants.  One half of the story follows their lives after the shipwreck.  Jamie becomes more of a secondary character to Marian.  

Hadley Baxter is chosen for the role of Marian Graves in a movie about her life.  Hadley lost her parents in a plane crash as a young child.

Most of the book is an epic of Marian and Jamie Graves and their lives with the present day of Hadley Baxter sprinkled in as she is preparing for her role as Marian Graves and trying to get more information of her life.  

Hadley meets relatives of Marian's contemporaries and learns previously unknown details of her life and her ending.

While this book is very long, it is well written and pulls you in to the story well.
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Great Circle was an intermittently entertaining but deeply flawed attempt at a 600-page epic historical novel: overwritten, overplotted, overwrought. Shipstead's main theme is a lesson in obviousness: real life vs. Hollywood spectacle, with some especially un-insightful ruminations on fame, lust, ambition, addiction, and heroine-worship. The plot machinery creaks, heaves, and lurches, dependent upon old-fashioned contrivances, coincidences, and non-shocking revelations. Shipstead takes a kitchen-sink approach to throwing undigested pieces of historical research and purplish natural description into the narrative.

The novel's chief defect is shallow characterization-- there isn't a single psychologically credible, three-dimensional human in here-- especially the two protagonists. Contemporary Hollywood superstar actress Hadley Baxter is an insufferably trivial and self-indulgent human who's playing the onscreen role of the intrepid yet mysterious yet damaged mid-century aviatrix Marian Graves, and gradually investigating the dark corners and closets of her dramatically over-eventful life.

Not surprisingly, the movie version wallpapers over the most enigmatic moments, repressed traumas, and unsolved mysteries of Marian's biography in favor of cheesy, escapist melodrama. But the novel itself reads like it was written to be adapted into a cheesily escapist melodramatic movie starring Jennifer Lawrence or a binge-able Netflix series with high production values.

The Hollywood chapters verged upon unreadable, just one glib cliché after another, and a judicious editor would have jettisoned that half of the book to produce a much tighter 300-page WWII novel about female pilots and their postwar PTSD. I do have to admit that the final 100 pages, wherein Marian perilously circumnavigates the planet from pole to pole, were incredibly gripping.

Like many of you Booker completists who resolutely slogged their way through Great Circle, I am highly dubious that this is a Booker-worthy novel. However, it might be a Pulitzer-worthy upper-middlebrow novel with just enough literary pretension or ambition to become a bestseller for people who don't usually read literary fiction: like Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch or Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See.
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This feels like the perfect almost-post pandemic novel. After 15 months indoors, who doesn't want to read about a woman who manages to escape her isolated, neglected childhood and fly to the ends of the earth? Yes, it's a long book, but it moves fast, never feels bogged down, and leads you on an exhilarating ride from the early days of aviation to modern Hollywood.
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If you are interested in aviation, this is a book for you. It is a dual timeline with one being a young girl who is learning to fly in the early days of aviation contrasted with an actress playing this young aviator in a movie. Very interesting about planes and the challenges faced by those that pioneered that field. I knocked off one star because of an odd Native American storyline that just didn’t seem to fit. Overall highly recommended 
#netgalley #maggieshipstead #knoft
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I struggled so much with this book, not as much for being a lenghty read, but for being a confusing one. There are different plots twisting, characters are nicely described, I do have difficulty imagining some situations since they are so hard to believe.

What I really enjoyed is a well-versed sentences.

I am so sad that this read wasn’t a good choice for me, maybe it’s just a wrong time, but I wish author good luck, there is potential there!

Thank you Netgalley for an arc!
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