AUTHOR | maggie shipstead
Maggie Shipstead is The New York Times bestselling author of the novels Seating Arrangements, Astonish Me, and Great Circle and the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and The L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction. Great Circle made the 2021 Booker Prize shortlist and rights to adapt it to a series (with Shipstead as executive producer) were purchased in a competitive bidding war. Shipstead is a graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her next book, a collection of short stories, was published in May 2022.
Online resources: https://www.maggieshipstead.com
This is a sweeping, romantic adventure of a novel, beautifully crafted and incredibly entertaining. Epic, emotional and cinema-graphic, it is meticulously researched and gloriously told along two different timelines a century apart. The first centers on the globe-trotting life of fictional Marian Graves, roughly 1909 to 1950. The second is the contemporary story, set in Hollywood 2014, of a young actress set to play Graves, a legendary pilot, in her biopic.
After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and her twin brother, Jamie Graves, are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There, after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in biplanes, Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At 14, she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons. This arrangement that will haunt Marian for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her audacious dream - - circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles. Her story is an amazing one of fear, courage, adventure and longing, filled with star-crossed lovers, bootleggers, prostitutes, hunters, trackers, bush pilots, artists and drunks. Across Marian’s timeline, the author takes readers to prohibition Montana, the Great Depression, Alaska, Seattle, WWII London, a German POW camp, the South Pacific, and finally on a pole-to-pole round the world flight, all of which are so artfully described that the reader is transported to each time and place.
A century later, fictional actress Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian's disappearance in Antarctica. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds alongside Marian's own story, as the two women's fates, and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times, collide.
Though the book is long (~600 pages), it is a veritable page-turner, drawing the reader forward chapter by chapter. Great Circle is a truly captivating book with surprising twists and turns, as well as a wonderful tribute to bold and adventurous women of every era.
You Have a Friend in 10A: Stories is an exceptional collection of stories. Knockout after knockout, Maggie Shipstead delivers another "extraordinary" (New York Times) work of fiction and seals her reputation as a writer of "breathtaking range and skill" (Kirkus Reviews).