Quicklet on West with the Night by Beryl Markham (CliffNotes-like Summary) by Laura Brestovansky Summary
ABOUT THE BOOK I’ve always been interested in women in history, particularly those of the 20th century. Somehow, though, I had never heard of Beryl Markham until I came across her book, “West With the Night,” about a year or so ago. The cover’s engaging portrait of Markham, looking patrician and quite beautiful in her aviator helmet, immediately drew my attention. As I began to read the account of her life, I was quickly hooked by her fascinating description of life in British East Africa (today known as Kenya) in the early 1900s: Imagine taking off in a two-seater plane and narrowly avoiding a zebra. My impression was confirmed the more I read: Markham was clearly a woman who lived in a completely different world than I do in 21st century America: She bred championship racehorses. She flew planes into remote parts of Africa. And she managed to write about it without a hint of boasting. Her writing is simple and honest. No less a writer than Ernest Hemingway, a friend of Markham’s, praised the book as “bloody wonderful” in a letter to Maxwell Perkins, as cited on the back cover of the 1983 edition of West with the Night). Markham’s account showed me that life is meant to be lived to the full. Taking risks and trying new things is what gives life its savor. Telling other’s about one’s adventures allows them to savor them too. MEET THE AUTHOR Laura Brestovansky has more than 20 years of writing/editing/proofreading experience, including blogs, e-books, articles, brochures, press releases and more. Currently, she is also the public relations liaison for Caregivers Professional Resources (www.cprmich.com), whose duties include writing the CPR Airway blog. She has written on a number of topics, including health care, home improvement, travel, religion and social issues. She graduated with honors from Eastern Michigan University, majoring in journalism and political science. When she’s not on the computer (whether writing, editing or surfing), she’s spending time with her husband and three children, possibly biking or hiking with them or watching a classic movie. EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK West With the Night is Beryl Markham’s memoir of her life in British East Africa (Kenya). She was a racehorse breeder, bush pilot and the first woman to fly across the Atlantic from east to west. The book begins with Markham’s review of an old flight logbook, which sets the scene for the entire book -- British East Africa in the 1930s. Once setting the scene she recounts her journey to deliver oxygen to a sick minor: “-- a job to be done at an uncomfortable hour with sleep in my eyes and a half a grumble on my lips.” While the flight itself is routine, Markham flies with the knowledge that a friend and fellow pilot is missing in the Serengeti.