For fans of The Goldfinch, All the Light We Cannot See and The Girls: this monumentally powerful epic weaves together the astonishing lives of a daredevil female aviator and the Hollywood rebel who will play her on screen.
‘Outrageously gifted’ RICHARD RUSSO
‘Ferociously clever’ GUARDIAN
From the days of giant passenger ships sliding past Arctic icebergs, to the daring pilots of WWII, to present-day Hollywood and its malcontents, at the core of this story is the indomitable Marian Graves and her twin brother Jamie who are twice abandoned by their parents. Marian and Jamie grow up roaming Montana forests, more comfortable with landscape than with people.
When a pair of aerobats take their exhilarating show to a nearby airfield, Marian’s life is changed forever. Watching them roll, dive, and loop in their mini plane, she can think of nothing else but flying. As she grows into a woman, she sacrifices everything to command the breathtaking sense of freedom, of utter control over her own fate, that she feels when in the air. She becomes one of the most fearless pilots of her time, and in 1949 she sets out to do what no one has done before: fly the Great Circle around the earth, north to south around the poles. Shortly before completing the journey, her plane disappears, lost to history.
In 2015, Hadley Baxter, former child star and poster girl of the blockbuster Archangel franchise, has just been fired for cheating on her on-screen boyfriend. Struggling to escape the fury of the fans, she grasps at an offer for the comeback role of a lifetime: to play the famed female pilot Marian Graves in a biopic. From the first pages of the script, she feels an instant connection with Marian, a woman who refused to be bound by gravity or any of the other strictures of her time. After filming is complete, her bond grows stronger as she begins to question whether the Great Marian Graves really did die at all.
Maggie Shipstead is the author of the bestselling and prize-winning debut novel SEATING ARRANGMENTS.With GREAT CIRCLE, she cements her place among a famed list of American Literary Stars as one of the greatest storytellers of our time.
This is truly exceptional storytelling, combining a sweeping arc of history with writing that, at sentence level, is near-flawless * BOOKSELLER * Whether Shipstead is creating scenes in the Prohibition-era American West, in wartime London, or on a Hollywood movie set, her research is invisible, allowing a fully immersive experience. Ingeniously structured and so damn entertaining; this novel is as ambitious as its heroines-but it never falls from the sky. * KIRKUS * Books to look forward to in 2021 * GUARDIAN, INDEPENDENT, NEW STATESMAN * Transcendent ... A rolling, roiling epic ... Through the interwoven stories of impetuous flyer Marian Graves and flavor-of-the-month actress Hadley Baxter, Shipstead ponders the motivating forces behind acts of daring defiance, self-fulfilment and self-destruction. An ambitious, soaring saga. * BOOKLIST * Underpinning it all is a reverence for nature, thrumming in the forests of Montana, the jagged peaks of Alaska and the stupefying ice shelves of the Antarctic. Exhilarating, masterful depictions ... invites readers to contemplate both magnitude and majesty * BOOKPAGE [Starred review] * Luminous, masterful ... glides seamlessly through the 20th century immersing the reader. Tremendously written. * TELEGRAPH * Impressive and gripping * SUNDAY TIMES *
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