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Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

A soaring, breathtakingly ambitious novel that weaves together the astonishing lives of a 1950s vanished female aviator and the modern-day Hollywood actress who plays her on screen.
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From her days as a wild child in prohibition America to the blitz and glitz of wartime London, from the rugged shores of New Zealand to a lonely iceshelf in Antarctica, Marian Graves is driven by a need for freedom and danger.

Determined to live an independent life, she resists the pull of her childhood sweetheart, and burns her way through a suite of glamorous lovers. But it is an obsession with flight that consumes her most.

Over half a century later, troubled film star Hadley Baxter is drawn inexorably to play the enigmatic pilot on screen. It is a role that will lead her to an unexpected discovery, throwing fresh and spellbinding light on the story of the unknowable Marian Graves.

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Review

Luminous, masterful ... glides seamlessly through the 20th century immersing the reader. Tremendously well-written ― TELEGRAPH, 'Best Fiction of 2021'

A gripping historical adventure that feels sharp, fresh and modern ― 
STYLIST MAGAZINE

Shipstead turns phrases and observes people beautifully. Full of adventure, passion and tragedy... a glorious tribute to women who push the boundaries of their one, brief life, breaking the bonds of their place in history and their female bodies, to soar higher and faster than others; and the price they pay to live so fast ― 
THE TIMES, 'Best Fiction of 2021'

Impressive and gripping ― 
SUNDAY TIMES

What's so impressive is how deeply we care about each of these people, and how the shape and texture of each of their stories collide to build a story all its own. GREAT CIRCLE grasps for and ultimately reaches something extraordinary ― 
NEW YORK TIMES

The Marian portions rove from Montana to Manhattan to Scotland and Antarctica, and read like a carnival of early-20th-century American history, packed with bootleggers, treacherous boxcar rides, and tragic shipwrecks. The Hadley chapters offer a delectable dissection of life as a celebrity, serving up an intelligent skewering of the Hollywood machine and allowing the book to take flight ― 
VOGUE

GREAT CIRCLE is a novel of our insatiable need to stare down the terrible, magnificent vastness of it all: love, war, desire, fear ... A sweeping, swashbuckling book, full of oversaturated colour and grand destiny. The joy of this dynamic, soaring novel is not a welcome extra but its very engine ― 
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

Encompasses flight, travel adventure, identity, sexuality, family, the celebrity age - and in such beautiful writing. A masterpiece. ― 
NIGELLA LAWSON

Rocked by the cool cadences of Shipstead's prose, readers will embark on a journey through time and space. Across 600 pages, they'll link arms with its characters as they stroll along the decks of early-1900s ocean liners, then board private jets to eavesdrop on the poolside parties of 21st-century Hollywood. They'll spot eagles arcing over the wild frontiers of Prohibition-era America then feel the lonely, existential chill of the white expanses of Antarctica - in between city breaks in Europe and Australia ― 
INDEPENDENT

This wonderful novel weaves together the story of two women: a female aviator who goes missing in the1950s and the Hollywood star playing her in a film in the present day. A commitment that rewards with memorable characters and vivid storytelling ― 
GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, 'Best Fiction of 2021'

From near-death experience in childhood, to marriage to a bootlegger, Marian rockets off the page in this gripping novel. A staggering story ― 
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE

Accomplished and ambitious... Most novelists have their limits and cut their cloth accordingly. Shipstead is a writer who can vividly summon whatever she chooses, taking the reader deep inside the world she creates. ― 
FINANCIAL TIMES

A clever, poignant story about ambition, love and sacrifice that'll completely draw you in ― 
COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE

This ambitious, wide-ranging and psychologically insightful novel is a tour-de-force ― 
DAILY EXPRESS

It is rare to read a novel that is as beautifully built as it is elegantly written. Moving and surprising at every turn ― 
GUARDIAN

A gorgeous soaring story that takes flight from the very first page ― 
SUNDAY EXPRESS

Vast and entrancing ― 
BA HIGH LIFE

A riveting novel with powerful characters that will excite, shock and enthral ― 
PSYCHOLOGIES MAGAZINE

Nothing short of brilliant ― 
OPRAH DAILY

A work of epic proportions and rich, cinematic detail ― 
FINANCIAL TIMES, BEST OF SUMMER BOOKS

Grand, audacious and completely engrossing ― 
DAILY MIRROR

This epic novel tops 600 pages but you'll still want more. Ambitious, cannily constructed and entertaining ― 
MAIL ON SUNDAY

Beautifully written and endlessly readable, this rapturous novel soars ― 
GUARDIAN

Ambitious, intricately detailed, rich and considered ― 
INDEPENDENT

A WOMAN'S WEEKLY BOOK CLUB READ ― 
MY WEEKLY

Daringly ambitious... a novel that invites the reader to immerse themselves in the sweep of history, the rich and detailed research... breathtaking ― 
OBSERVER

Great Circle is an epic trip-through Prohibition and World War II, from Montana to London to present-day Hollywood-and you'll relish every minute ― PEOPLE MAGAZINE

Glitz and guts square off in 
Great Circle: a tale of two women set apart by a century, fighting to retain control of their own lives in a society that demands subservience. Shipstead is adept at writing so vividly, the reader can feel the thrill and pain of her characters. Cunningly crafted. . . richly layered, a joy to read . . . riveting ― THE SPOKESMAN REVIEW

Mesmerizing ― 
TATLER

An enthralling epic about aviation and adventure. A big, baggy blast of a book bulging with sex and drugs, taking in Prohibition-era Montana, wartime London, present-day Hollywood, painting and physics. I loved it ― 
REBECCA JONES, BBC ARTS CORRESPONDENT

A generous, escapist treat ― 
i-PAPER, 30 BEST BOOKS FOR SUMMER

A soaring epic of female adventure and wanderlust ― 
GUARDIAN

Bestselling novelist Maggie Shipstead was struggling to depict a female adventurer. So she became one. The stakes of GREAT CIRCLE are high-for its heroine, literally life or death. Though Shipstead never learned to fly herself, she aligned with her main character Marian Graves in more important ways . . . She is interested in testing her limits ― 
L A TIMES

Relentlessly exciting . . . My top recommendation for this summer. Shipstead's sweeping new female-centered epic intertwines the story of Marian, an aviator who wants to circumnavigate the globe with that of actor Hadley Baxter, cast a century later to play Marian in a film. What can Marian's life tell Hadley about her own? ― 
WASHINGTON POST

Dazzling prose in the service of an expansive story that covers more than a century and seems to encapsulate the whole wide world. With detailed brilliance, she lavishes heart and empathy on every character. She never wavers, pulls out a twist or two that feel fully earned, and then sticks the landing ― 
BOSTON GLOBE

Swinging from one century to the next, from the moneyed splendor of cities to the shifting Antarctic ice, Shipstead's prose overflows with meticulous detail ― 
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

Enthralling. Moving and surprising at every turn ― 
GUARDIAN

Sweepingly panoramic and immersive. An audacious epic ― 
DAILY MAIL, 'Best Fiction of 2021'

In a moment when our quarantined worlds have become so small, GREAT CIRCLE offers more than just wanderlust; it feels like a liberation. ― 
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Maggie Shipstead combines cinematic scope with a poet's eye for detail ― 
THE TIMES

The beginning of Maggie Shipstead's astounding novel, a Booker finalist, includes a series of endings: two plane crashes, a sunken ship and several people dead. The bad luck continues when one of the ship's young survivors, Marian, grows up to become a pilot-only to disappear on the job. Shipstead unravels parallel narratives, Marian's and that of another woman whose life is changed by Marian's story, in glorious detail. Every character, whether mentioned once or 50 times, has a specific, necessary presence. It's a narrative made to be devoured, one that is both timeless and satisfying. ― 
TIME, BOOK OF THE YEAR

Absolutely dazzling ― 
NEWSWEEK

Thrilling ― 
DAILY MAIL

GREAT CIRCLE flew us to a different world. A book to devour ― 
TELEGRAPH, BOOK OF THE YEAR

A sweeping saga that alternates between the life of a tenacious female aviator in the 1930s and that of a millennial film star cast to play her in a biopic. In death, 'each of us destroys the world,' the author observes - but her engrossing novel is a moving reflection on the will to survive ― 
THE ECONOMIST

Artfully constructed and exhuberantly entertaining ― 
THE MAIL, BOOK OF THE YEAR

Shipstead soars in this expansive, beautiful novel about women and flight ― 
THE STRAITS TIMES

Engrossing, ambitious, beautifully written ― 
DAILY EXPESS, Summer Reading

A brilliant saga of a book. It will absolutely captivate you ― 
JANE GARVEY, Fortunately Podcast

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin (26 May 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 688 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1529176646
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1529176643
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 461 g
M717

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