Cover Image: Great Circle

Great Circle

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Member Reviews

I was provided a free copy of this by @netgalley and @knopfdoubleday in exchange for my honest review!
This was a pretty epic historical fiction story (just over 600 pages)! In it we follow the life of Marian Graves (born in 1914) as she grows up through many historical events (especially prohibition and WWII), becomes an aviatrix, and ultimately is lost as she tries to fly a great circle around the Earth from pole to pole. In more modern times (2014) we learn out about Hadley Baxter, a popular actress who is cast to play Marian in a biographical movie and has many troubles of her own.
I finished this book about a week ago, but have been conflicted on my feelings of it and what to write. On the one hand I stopped reading at one point to Google "Marian Graves" because I couldn't remember if this was based on a real person, and Marian seemed very real to me! But on the other hand, it did feel long and arduous at times. The beginning definitely took some time to get into, and I found myself not excited about Hadley's storyline. When the narrative would switch I was often anxious to get back. Hadley was a difficult character to like. I do feel she got some redemption as the story progressed, and I appreciate what she brought to the end, but for most of the book it was a struggle.
Thankfully the story was focused more on Marian and her adventurous life, so ultimately I decided to give it four stars!
This is set to be published Tuesday (May 4th), so definitely add it to your TBR and look for it soon!
#NetGalley #GreatCircle

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Thanks to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. I've read Astonish Me and Seating Arrangements by the same author, so I was anxious to read Shipstead's newest book. It's also received a good deal of press in the months leading up to its publication. I enjoyed this book as I did her others. There were a lot of well developed characters who will stay with me for a long time.

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Wow! This novel is an epic, sweeping story spanning the entire life of twins Marian and Jamie Graves. From their conception and birth through their entire lives - challenges, heartaches, dreams, and failures. It also simultaneously follows Hadely, a modern day movie/TV star going through her own challenges and finding herself, while playing Marian in a biopic.

This is not an easy read, counting in over 600 pages, but worth it by the end to understand such interesting and varied lives and experiences. Marian's story span Prohibition, World War 2, and beyond, with some great travel and adventure writing as well as some truly heartbreaking events throughout as well. This is historical fiction at it's best - both character and plot driven.

I actually enjoyed Hadley's story the most, which is probably less than 1/3 of the book, but both timelines were interesting.

The only caveat I have is the length of the book - yes, it is sweeping, but it did drag for quite a bit (kinda like life) around halfway mark.

Overall, this is a beautifully written beautiful story that does get where you want it to in the end!

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If you like long family saga type books, pick this one up
For me it starts out a bit confusing and it took me awhile to figure out what was going on. It’s told in alternating timelines and parts where more interesting than others.
It’s a bit too long for me and drags at times.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy

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I have to be honest and say that I almost did something I’ve never done. I almost DNF and told Net Galley I would not be giving feedback. I’m really glad that I stuck with it and am now finished and writing a review. I found the first part of the book very tedious. It is understandable that the author wanted to give the reader information about Marion’s family background to better understand why she made the choices she did, but she could have done it more succinctly. I also did not enjoy the present day storyline featuring Hadley. This storyline helped to tie everything up at the end of the book, but there could have been another way to do that. All that said, I loved Marion. She was a great character who will stay with me for a long time. Her story was great from her childhood to her becoming a pilot and beyond. I particularly loved the World War II part. I’m giving the book three stars. It took way too long for me to enjoy the reading experience for it to be a higher rating which is really too bad.

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This book is not a novel—it's more like three novels, put into a bag and shaken up and reconstructed. I prefer to read one story at a time. The narrative is dry and unemotional, and I couldn't connect with any of the characters. I don't care what happens to them. This book is not for me. DNF at 16%.

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Wow, this is a book I both loved and hated, but I could not put it down! This is a story, beautifully written, about people, particularly women who don't know who they are or what they want out of life. One, Marion Graves, is destined to become a pilot, one of the brave women who flew during WWII transporting planes from one place to another to "free up" the men to do the "important" work! At home only in the sky, Marion is a fully developed character I adored, but wanted to shake hard several times. James, her brother, is an artist with his own story, just as complicated and imaginative as Marion's. Almost every character in this novel, even the minor ones, are carefully drawn and became real to me. Cable, Hadley, Barclay, Ruth, Eddie, even Joey Kamaka at the end were fully realized human beings with their own idiosyncracies, personalities and lives. Yes, the book is VERY long, but so worth while reading. Once I was fully into the novel, I was hooked and read almost continuously for three days (I read fast!). Allow this book to capture you as the entirety of it is wonderful! I did have some qualms about Hadley, the modern-day parallel to Marion, her life and her inability to control her urges, but they are minor in the face of the entire novel. This is written so well that I fully believed Marion Graves existed! Thank you Alfred A. Knopf for letting me read an Advance Copy. All thoughts are my own.

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I enjoyed this book. The pacing and the characters were well thought out. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.

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3.5 stars
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I was drawn to it because I love stories about female aviators and read everything I can get my hands on about Amelia Earhart's last flight.
What prevents me from rating this higher is the length of the book. The last 10-15% is wonderful. The characters, the writing, the story itself- all wonderful. But it took me like 500 pages to get to that point. So many unnecessary details woven into the beginning.
I loved the story and wish that it could have been told in less than 600 pages.
I would recommend this to others, but caution prospective readers of its length.

Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for the ARC!

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The story of Marian Graves kept me intrigued from the first to the last page (which is really something considering the book is over 600 pages). Marian doesn’t know what she wants out of life except that she is meant to fly. Flying during prohibition and through WWII leads Marian to attempt a flight around the world, from pole to pole.

Told from multiple different perspectives this book tells the whole story of Marian’s life and her legacy and by the end I felt like I truly knew her. I don’t feel like I have ever read a book that painted such a complete picture of a character. This story and the emotions expressed in the novel will stick with me for a long time.

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You won't be able to put this book down. I loved every page, all 600 plus. Thought provoking, read at your own risk characters, page turning adventures, you will want to go where the book takes you because of the descriptions of the country. Maggie Shipstead did an amazing job of writing this story. READ! When finished you will know these characters, inside and out.

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If you want to immerse yourself in the life of a strong female protagonist, this is it. Marion Graves is lightyears ahead of her time (1914), and there’s absolutely nothing that can stand in the way of her dream: fly, fly, then fly some more. What a beautiful and lyrical tribute to a character who embodies so many women from her era, many who are noted throughout the book as a reference to the time period.
Marion and her twin brother Jamie have a terribly rocky start to life, and thanks to the care, or lack thereof, of their guardian uncle, they basically raise themselves. Filled with beautiful detail, well-described thoughts and deeply moving viewpoints, their life and times are a mesmerizing saga.
In a dual perspective (2014), we meet Hadley, an actress with similar roots as the twins who has been contracted to play Marion in an in depth movie. I found Hadley to be an empty shell in compassion to Marion, and I wondered why her character was even involved. While reading, I was always relieved to turn the page and find we were back with Marion again. But this didn't affect the overall impact of the book and it’s story- the life of a strong, independent, lonely and private woman who loves to fly.
Sincere thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date was May 4, 2021.

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If you like to follow characters through various phases of their lives, if you have interest in women's aviation, if you want a real feel for Antartica and what drives an adventurer this story is for you. The story follows Marian and her brother Jamie through the decades while concurrently following current day Hadley who is making a film about Marian's life. I wasn't as enthralled with Hadley's story though it does come together but it just wasn't as compelling to me. I kept wanting to get back to Marian and Jamie to see what life was going to throw at them next. Highly recommend. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Holy cow there is a lot going on in this book! And it's a long story! I didn't think it was going to end. It's interesting how the dual storylines are tied togther. It starts out slow and takes a while to build into it - I almost quit about 20% into reading, but felt it had to get more interesting - and it does!

Thank you to NetGalley for a timed, digital ARC in return for my review.

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This is a really wonderful story that I hated to see end. It was a very different kind of story in that there is no real romance between any of the main characters but each just had their terribly sad backstory that kept them from establishing any meaningful lasting relationships. All had significant childhood scars that would have been challenging even with lots of therapy and more normal lifestyles but all their inner self destructive tendencies be it through sex, drugs, cutting, alcohol or just always being on the verge of destroying any chance of happiness that came their way really almost assured a bad outcome.

There are two parallel stories constantly shifting back and forth. The first is about a set of twins who survived a cruise ship exploding and sinking as infants just prior to the Great War and were raised by an uncle in rural Montana . Marian desperately wanted to learn to fly from the first moment she saw barnstorming pilots as a young girl just as Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic and was quite willing to do absolutely anything to accomplish this no matter the cost. A chance encounter with a wealthy bootlegger allowed her dreams to come true but with lots of strings. The story follows her through flying in Alaska to escape her husband and later on to England where she flew to help the war effort. For her, flying was as essential as breathing. Eventually she decides to fly around the world from the Arctic to the Antarctic starting in New Zealand.

The second story is about a young Hollywood star whose parents died in a plane crash when she was young and was raised by her uncle in Hollywood. She wants to play the part of Marian in a film as a world class pilot who goes missing in Antarctica while on a flight to fly over the poles. She decides to really find out more about this long missing early pilot so that her film performance will be true.

This is a wonderful book and I am so glad to have had the chance to read this early advance copy. The end is well thought out and very well imagined.

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Great Circle is an epic! There’s no denying Maggie Shipstead is a phenomenal writer and Great Circle is her best work to date. Great Circle is a novel that will stay with me for a while. It starts a bit slow, but I soon found myself enmeshed in the life of Marian Graves. I wonder, though, why was her story alone not enough? What does Hadley add and is it necessary? I guess she provides a way to learn the full story of Marian, but I am uncertain if that could have happened in another way. Overall, Great Circle is a wonderful story!

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Maggie Shipstead's haunting story of a a daredevil aviatrix who lives life by her own rules, and the parallel story of a spoiled A-list actress who is cast to play the female aviator a century later, absorbs and educates as the circles spiral and entwine both lives. A long read, this epic tale starts slowly but reaches its destiny as Marian Graves flies from Prohibition-era Montana through Alaska then wartime England before she sets out to circumnavigate the globe flying over both poles.

Hadley Baxter, like Marian, is orphaned as a young child and then raised by a well-meaning but distracted uncle. Acting for Hadley is merely a vocation, however, not the avocation Marian has for flying. But both women chaff under the demands of cult celebrity and seek self-determination. It's Marian's story that pulled me in and dominates the book. Epic and meticulously researched, the reader stows away with Marian through the dawn of commercial aviation, then struggles with Hadley as she unravels the enigma of Marian the person.

"Great Circle" is a worthy read. Thanks to the author, publisher & NetGalley for the ARC. Four stars.

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Great Circle is a epic, vivid and magnificently written. I was pulled into the atmosphere immediately.
The characters, aviator Marian Graves, her twin brother Jamie and navigator Eddie Bloom are central to this story. In present day, fast forwarding sixty years, we meet actress Hadley Baxter who has been cast to play Marian
Raised by their uncle, Marian is adventurous and born to fly. Jamie is quiet, kind and an artist, very close but equally different.
Marian will drive a truck and run moonshine to pay for flying lessons and her dream of flying the Great Circle, pole to pole. Determination fuels her and her strength guides her through moments of fulfillment and despair.
Hadley Baxter’s acting career has hit a snag after another scandalous affair. The role of Marian Graves could be her moment to soar, redeem herself and her career.
Maggie Shipstead beautifully weaves the lives and fates of the characters. Their story is spellbinding and filled with emotion.
Well recommended and enjoyable.
Thanks to NetGalley, Knopf Publishing and Maggie Shipstead for leading these characters into my life.

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This is going to be a hard review for me to write -- while i did not LOVE the book, i'm glad i made myself finish it. The book opens with the rescue of two infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914. The novel tracks their lives across America and beyond as Marian pursues her dream of becoming the first pilot to circumnavigate the globe going over the north and south poles. The infants are twins and their characters are written well: very different from each other. Marian is the thrill seeker and Jamie is the shy artist. In the present day Hadley is an actress who is going to portray Marian in a movie based on Marians' flight log book./ journal. I didn't have a problem with the story going back and forth between time periods. I did find it a bit confusing when the author would backtrack in time a few months while telling the story in the past. Just seemed a lot of back and forth for me. Honestly , I was not impressed with having to read about Hadley's sexual exploitations and her lifestyle. It did not add to the story at all for me. If I didn't need Hadley to help pull the ending together I could have done without her entirely. She was a character I could not get into too. The book was a very slow start for me and I found myself wanting to give up many times. However the story of Marian and Jamie, in the end was very good so i'm glad i stayed with it. The last 25% of the book was probably the best. The ending was well done and a bit of a surprise. while it was not my favorite, I would recommend it as a read.

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Thanks to @netgalley and @aaknopf for an advanced copy of this book. I enjoyed it. There is a preface from the editor in my arc that talked about how amazing and epic the book is. I think maybe that built up my expectations a little. Whereas I did like the book I thought I was too long and maybe a teeny bit pretentious. About half way through I was ready for it to be over and I still had 300 pages to go.
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The book is this sweeping tale of two children who are not raised by their parents. We have no idea what happens to the mother and the father abandons them after a stint in prison. While technically he committed a crime he wasn’t actually responsible for the catastrophic incident. The book mainly follows the daughter, Marian. In the 1920’s at a young age she decides to become a pilot. She is determined not to let her lack of parents, money, or bring a girl stop her. It’s not an easy road but she doesn’t care about it being easy. It follows her through prohibition, an abusive relationship, becoming a excellent pilot, flying in WWII, and eventually trying to circle the globe in an airplane.
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I did like the book. However, I’d have liked it more had it been a third shorter. This book will be available on 5/4/21.

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