This is one of those rare occasions on which a great character, story and writer all come together to produce a simply great book. I get the impression that Beryl's story has historically been defined by her relationships with men, rumored or real, and certainly they were important. But Beryl has something driving her, a passion for horses, for flying, for freedom that is usually lacking in historical fiction. I feel that passion is not only there, but brought to life in a thoroughly convincing way by McLain. Not by telling us over and over that Beryl was a passionate woman, as a lesser writer would do, but by allowing us to share her passion, something that requires a great deal of research and then skill as a writer. Kenya, as essential to the story as Beryl's passion, was also nearly tangible.
I read because every once in a while I find a gem like this story. I don't pretend to fully understand Beryl or want to be like her or agree with how she lived her life. But I do admire her now, and I'm glad McLain brought me her story.
I got an advance copy of this through NetGalley.