Cover Image: Great Circle

Great Circle

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Member Reviews

What a great beautiful story.

This tugged at my heartstrings and my emotions. Marian's life is something worth telling over and over. And the way that this story approaches that is something so interesting. 

If you love books by Kristin Hannah, Maggie Shipstead's GREAT CIRCLE is a must read.
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I received this book as an ARC with the promise to review. The story covers decades - from before World War I to after World War II. The author, Maggie Shipstead, has created a literary masterpiece! I love this book and the characters are so real and well-drawn - I would enjoy meeting and talking with them. The heartbreak and jubilation and sorrow will remain with me long after my reading has been finished  I totally recommend this amazing book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a dark psychological twist.
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Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. Thanks to NetGalley @netgalley and Knopf Doubleday @doubledaybooks for giving me a digital ARC of this novel. Publishing date: May 4th, 2021.
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Short Review: Great Circle is a sprawling epic focused on Marian Graves - a young daredevil obsessed with aviation - and her brother Jamie, who are being raised by their uncle. Marian learns to fly a plane in prohibition-era Montana, and gets caught up in a bad marriage to a rancher/racketeer, and involved in running moonshine across the Canadian border.
The quality of the writing itself is undeniable - the prose is lyrical and expressive, and the story is immersive. I did, however, find the novel a bit overly long (clocks in around 600 pages), so it takes some stamina to get through. I also wasn't particularly interested in the parallel plot about Hadley Baxter, an actor who is cast to play Marian in a movie about her mysterious disappearance, I just was more interested in Marian's aerial adventures!
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#GreatCircle #NetGalley #maggieshipstead #advancedreaderscopy #knopfdoubleday #bookreview #alwaysreading #recommendedread #2021books
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Did not finish reading this. Too many timeline switches with different sets of characters - it was difficult to follow the story.
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Well, I would definitely call this literary fiction, because the writing was beautiful and lyrical. I really liked the historical part of this book, but couldn't really get into the contemporary parts - but that is common for me. I think that anyone with in interest in strong female characters (and who couldn't get enough of Amelia Earhart) would like this book!
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An engrossing saga spanning a century of an adventurous woman, her family, and the actress who inherits the role of a lifetime.
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The size of this novel was intimidating...not something I would have said a decade ago, before social media stole my attention span, but here we are. Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead, was so good that I was pulled into the book and never felt time passing. The story of Marian Graves, a daredevil female pilot in the pre-World War II era and her quiet, empathetic brother Jamie is gorgeously told, with historical details that bring it to life. The story of Marian Graves would have been more than enough to keep me reading, but the book alternates between her story and that of Hadley Baxter, an actress who in 2014 is cast as Marian in a movie about the pilot's disappearance over Antartica. Despite their very different careers and the different times in which they live, the two women's stories reflect the need for self-determination that has driven many women to reach for more than what society thinks they should have. A truly beautiful and epic book.
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I was pulled in from the beginning of this story about Marian and her life of being a female pilot and wanting to fly around the world. It's so much more than that though, we see the things that shape and make her. Maggie Shipstead always writes very beautifully and I think the writing and how we learn so much about these characters lives that really pulls you in. This book is long though and I feel like there were a few parts that could be whittled down some, but besides that it was a wonderful novel and I know many people will enjoy reading it. 

Thanks NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC!
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We have a wonderful gift for women in this tremendously rich historical novel. Marian Graves, the archetypal independent woman that we all wish we could be, is the twin born out of a single night tryst between a ship’s captain and a beautiful and mysterious woman. Shortly after birth, her mother, her father the ship’s captain and her twin brother are taken onto an ill-fated voyage and the ship begins to sink as the result of a suspicious explosion in the cargo hold. Marian and her twin Jamie are rescued by their father, the captain, who takes them in a lifeboat, leaving others to perish as the ship sinks. Her father goes to prison, and after being released, abandons them to his brother, a drunk and a gambler who has little time for his wards. Marian grows to be a very complex young woman who longs for things that women just weren’t permitted to even dream of in the 20’s, to learn to fly. Her path to flying is a winding path and includes battles with her own gender roles, and leads her to the bed of a wealthy bootlegger who offers to fulfill her dreams at a price that further complicates her life. Marian’s life unwinds through the war as an ATA pilot, and leads to the bed of another female pilot, and a relationship that further shapes her life over the span of just a few years. While this might sound like the makings of a shabby TV show, it is so much more. Marian’s live and the lives of those in her orbit are spellbinding, and make for one of the best novel’s I have read in years. We see the many battles for identity for girls and women in the early to mid-twentieth century. Marian, an utterly believable character and is so richly drawn and is a character that is evocative of women such as Amelia Earhart who wouldn’t be kept down by their gender.
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I have really mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, the writing was great. On the other, it is so much longer than it needed to be. There are entire plotlines that don't need to be there. Why do we need to know Marian and Jamie's parents at all, let alone how they met and why the kids were conceived and how the mother felt... they never knew their parents so it felt bizarre that we were forced to spend so much time with them. The book is purportedly about a pioneer female aviator who goes missing. I was excited to read that, and I enjoyed when the book finally got there in the last 10-15%. 

There was just enough to keep me interested for the long, long, LONG trek to the actual point of the novel, but I imagine it would be a slog for anyone who wasn't invested in where the story was going.
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Maggie Shipstead just gets better and better.  She has written an epic here and it is magnificent!  The history of women in flight, prohibition rum running, WWII, the Artic, Hollywood moviemaking -- her canvas spans the world and six decades.  It is full of interesting, believable characters who take up residence in the reader's heart and it is full of capital B big ideas -- the vast expanse of loneliness, obsession, control, devotion, family.  Her ability to evoke a sense of place -- the wilds of Montana, the icy desolation of the Artic -- is award-worthy. It's all here and it's glorious, multiple stories to sink into, to hold your breath, to wipe your tears.
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This book is a masterpiece! The sheer scope of the timeline, the depths of the characters, the pacing, the ingenious storytelling... I was honestly blown away. I'm expecting this to win ALL the awards.
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This is a sweeping, epic account of the fictitious Marian Graves—a woman pilot who eventually sets out to fly around the world via the North and South Poles. But this book is so much more. It’s her life from beginning to end—the struggle to follow one’s dreams in a century that limited the endeavors of women and relegated them to being homemakers and mothers. It’s about the unrelentingly fire of the human spirit. It’s about the messiness and complexity of being human —that even heroes and heroines—while beautiful, strong, brave and courageous can still be selfish and fallible. It’s a fiction story, but oddly it feels true —true to being human.

Loved this book!  Highly recommend.  

Podcast review -- will drop on 3/30/21.
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I initially saw this book being posted around Bookstagram and it honestly didn't really sound like something I would like, but I decided to try it anyway. I started the book and honestly, it was very slow in the beginning. I decided to stick it out. I am so glad I did. Now I want to read her other novels! I really enjoyed how the novel worked in the two separate, but connected timelines. The first is in that of Marian Graves, set in roughly 1909 to 1950. The second is more contemporary, set in Hollywood 2014, of a young actress set to play Graves, a legendary female aviator, in the biopic. Marian's story, along with that of her twin brother Jamie, is an amazing one of fear, courage, and a great adventure. It involves star-crossed lovers, bootleggers, prostitutes, hunters, and trackers-to name just a few. In Marian's timeline, the author takes readers to prohibition Montana, Alaska, Seattle, wartime London, wartime Alaska, a German POW camp, the South Pacific, and finally on a pole-to-pole round the world flight during which Marian's plane disappears. In the more modern timeline, actress Hadley Baxter is starting to really get to know herself and Marian in a world where women make mistakes and men are forgiven for them. While I really enjoyed the adventure aspect of the book, it must be said that there is so much more to this novel. Reading Marian’s journal about being a woman in a man’s world positions her as a feminist role model but the existential musings are humanly poignant. This ended up being a five-star read for me and Maggie Shipstead just got a new fan!
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I *loved* this book. It's You know that feeling when you read a novel and it's so vivid that you keep wanting to google something to learn more about it? I can't remember the last time a book gave me that feeling about as many different things as this one did. It's a bit slow to start, but it's so utterly worth it. This book has everything: women who want to fly, bootleggers, queer love, soaring skies, philosophical notions, surprising beginnings and astounding endings.
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This book was a great adventure to read! The writing is good, the stories of Marian, Jamie, Caleb and Harley blend well together. I know it’s all fiction, but I had to keep telling myself that it IS fiction. 

Our book club needs to read this. All book groups, women, men and people who love a well written adventure will love this book.

Thanks to Netgalley for offering this book to me.
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There are so many things to love about this transporting, epic novel - the sweep of history, a daredevil female aviator who loves flying almost more than anything, bootlegging, war and on - but what I loved most was the sibling relationship at the heart of this novel. The bond between Marian and Jamie Graves began from their being rescued as babies from a sinking ocean liner and travels through their adoption in Montana by their eccentric, somewhat lost artist uncle to their separate quests to fulfill their dreams, one of becoming an artist and the other of achieving incredible feats of endurance flight. I loved their story, which will stay with me for a long time.
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This story has two tracks - one focused on Marian in the early 1900's who, along with her brother, was essentially orphaned as infants and raised by their uncle in Montana.  The second story line follows Hadley, an actress who is playing Marian in a movie.

It was quite interesting to read about Marian's life.  She became obsessed with flying and became one of the best pilots - from Alaska, to WW2.  Her brother explore his artistic talents as he found his place in the world.  Marian liked to push the envelope and aimed to fly around the world from the North Pole to the South Pole.  

This story is an epic that will stick with me for a while.
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An aviatrix and an actress--Maggie Shipstead employs the ambitious and intriguing structure of parallel narratives to flesh out the lives of two very different women...and to remind us how all women share similar ambitions and challenges. Perhaps not quite as fascinating as Shipstead's debut novel, but a rich and challenging and thought-provoking read.
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What a glorious book! It was both epic and intimate - sweeps of history along with the story of one woman and her family. The writing is gorgeous and the characters are memorable. I even had to keep reminding myself that Marian was not a real historical figure. Will be one of my favorites of the year!
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