For April, the Field Notes Book Group will be reading and discussing Beryl Markham’s classic memoir, West with the Night. As usual, we will be meeting at the library on the third Saturday of the month, in this case April 16, from 11:00 to 12:30, and there will be coffee and donuts to aid in the discussion.
Beryl Markham lived a fascinating life and makes it vividly real to her readers. She grew up in the beginning of the 20th century in what is now Kenya and was then British East Africa, encountering wild animals (she relates a story of the time she got mauled by a lion, and a hunt with her beloved dog for wild boars, among other stories), learning how to train and breed thoroughbreds, and finally learning how to become a pilot, one of the very few women pilots in Africa at the time.
It’s not just that she writes about a world that most of us will never get to experience for ourselves, and a time that has already retreated from living memory. It’s also the way she writes, the poetry of her language, the vividness of her prose, that makes this book a great one to discuss. She’s capable of writing about a horse race between animals none of us have ever heard of or will ever hear of again and making it so suspenseful you can hardly stop reading, and a few pages later she can describe the beauties of flying at night over a country so dark, so lacking in the comforts and colors of civilization, it’s as if she’s describing another world, but one you wish you could share in person.
If you’ve read the book before, read it again and savor the style, the language, the vivid descriptions, the world she brings to life. If you’ve never read it before, you’re in for a treat, so pick it up. And then come and join us for discussion and goodies.