Cover Image: Great Circle

Great Circle

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Member Reviews

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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This book was a hard one for me. I tried three times to pick it up, first getting to 5%, second time to 10% last time made it all the way to 20% when i realized it just was not for me.
The writing was too slow and I did not care about the story or the characters enough to keep reading for 10 more hours about them so sadly it was a DNF for me with this book .
The premise sounded great but the buildup it just did not catch my attention

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There is a lot to be said about Great Circle. Passion and grit come to mind. A story that is a dual timeline. It centers around Marian Graves a pilot and Hadley Baxter an actress. Two women who are navigating their way through life but dealing with issues relevant to their time periods. Resilient, strong yet vulnerable. After suffering similar losses the parallels between them are believable. Sometimes you have to loose yourself to find yourself. There are some twists that help to keep the reader engaged. I found some parts of this novel to be absorbing and other sections distracting. Good secondary character development also helps propel the story. Thank you #NetGalley #GreatCircle for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

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This was such an epic and sweeping novel. There is nothing not to like in this! The parallel storylines of Marian and Hadley were a joy and I loved how the characters had so many similarities to their lives with fame and their childhoods but ultimately addressed their lives challenges in different ways which is certainly a sign of the times. How amazing would the opportunities been for Marian if she was on today’s timeline?

I adored all of the settings and think that this was an amazing novel- at over 600 pages it had better be! 5 stars- I would highly recommend for others to jump in and go on this amazing adventure to the Great Circle.

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4.5*
There’s so much to like in this powerhouse novel. It’s the story of Marian Graves, an aviator who disappeared during a flight around the earth, crossing both the North and South poles. Marian and her twin Jamie began their lives as infant survivors of the tragic sinking of an ocean liner in 1914. But their father’s desire to save the babies lead to misfortune. Raised by an uncle, the pair were left free to roam and live wild in Montana. At the tender age of fourteen, Marian catches the eye of a wealthy man. This is the start of her atypical life that is filled with unusual relationships and her single-minded focus on her passion for flight.

A second plotline is set 100 years in the future when a famous Hollywood actress is hired to play the same Marian in an upcoming movie about the mystery of the celebrated aviator’s disappearance. The movie star, Hadley, has her own personal issues but she wants this role to cement her acting reputation. As she becomes more and more familiar with the real Marian Graves, she uncovers hints about who Marian really was and clues about her disappearance.

Hadley and Marion’s upbringing are somewhat parallel. Hadley, like Marian, was raised by her uncle and she too had an unconventional childhood. Another similarity is the two women’s celebrity status. This mirroring of the two is a nice touch and makes Hadley’s story more connected. But it’s Marian who steals the show and the plot.

There are critical historic events and places that are incorporated in this epic novel that spans the globe. They include news-making events such as sinking ships, early women’s aviation, WWII, missing aviators and also contemporary celebrity life in LA. But Shipstead has made this about so much more than sensational news.

The characters are atypical, richly imbued with their own unique personalities. Probably the most memorable are the twins. Their story is touching and vibrant. The pair will remain in readers’ minds long after the book is finished. Even the secondary characters are vividly presented and add to the richness of the story.

As the plot and the characters evolve, the ending brings the story full circle. This is a book that delights and soars. Marion’s love of flight is central to the story and readers will be lifted up by this adventurous tale of a woman who never wavered from her goal as she aspired to do the seemingly impossible.

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Honestly I was a little disappointed in this book. I saw it had rave reviews from a lot of people, but it fell a little flat for me. I wasn't a fan of the characters and truly only felt a connection to Hadley. However, I don't feel like her story line was developed as well as it could have been. Overall only 2/5 stars for me.

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Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book. The writing was beautifully descriptive and I enjoyed that, but I found it to be a little too long for my liking. I couldn’t keep myself interested. I think this is a great one for those who enjoy long, detailed stories and dual timelines.

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I was so excited to read this book and it did not disappoint!
The plot was so intriguing to me and I felt that it delivered immensely. I was hooked to the book the entire time I was reading it. Very enjoyable, would definitely recommend.

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