Great Circle (Hardback)
  • Great Circle (Hardback)

Great Circle (Hardback)

Hardback 608 Pages
Published: 04/05/2021
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Waterstones Says

Mapping the lives of a fearless female aviator and an actor who portrays her on screen decades later, Great Circle is an expansive tale of passion and ambition from the author of the award-winning Seating Arrangements.

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2021.

For fans of The Goldfinch, All the Light We Cannot See and The Girls: this monumentally powerful epic weaves together the astonishing lives of a daredevil female aviator and the Hollywood rebel who will play her on screen.

From the days of giant passenger ships sliding past Arctic icebergs, to the daring pilots of WWII, to present-day Hollywood and its malcontents, at the core of this story is the indomitable Marian Graves and her twin brother Jamie who are twice abandoned by their parents. Marian and Jamie grow up roaming Montana forests, more comfortable with landscape than with people.

When a pair of aerobats take their exhilarating show to a nearby airfield, Marian's life is changed forever. Watching them roll, dive, and loop in their mini plane, she can think of nothing else but flying. As she grows into a woman, she sacrifices everything to command the breathtaking sense of freedom, of utter control over her own fate, that she feels when in the air. She becomes one of the most fearless pilots of her time, and in 1949 she sets out to do what no one has done before: fly the Great Circle around the earth, north to south around the poles. Shortly before completing the journey, her plane disappears, lost to history.

In 2015, Hadley Baxter, former child star and poster girl of the blockbuster Archangel franchise, has just been fired for cheating on her on-screen boyfriend. Struggling to escape the fury of the fans, she grasps at an offer for the comeback role of a lifetime: to play the famed female pilot Marian Graves in a biopic. From the first pages of the script, she feels an instant connection with Marian, a woman who refused to be bound by gravity or any of the other strictures of her time. After filming is complete, her bond grows stronger as she begins to question whether the Great Marian Graves really did die at all.

Maggie Shipstead is the author of the bestselling and prize-winning debut novel Seating Arrangements. With Great Circle, she cements her place among a famed list of American Literary Stars as one of the greatest storytellers of our time.

Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 9780857526809
Number of pages: 608
Weight: 817 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 40 mm


'Outrageously gifted.' - Richard Russo

'Ferociously clever.' - The Guardian

'This is truly exceptional storytelling, combining a sweeping arc of history with writing that, at sentence level, is near-flawless.' - The Bookseller

'Luminous, masterful ... glides seamlessly through the 20th century immersing the reader. Tremendously well-written.' - Daily Telegraph

'Effortlessly woven... deserves to be savoured slowly.' - Katie Law, Evening Standard

'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

'Whether Shipstead is creating scenes in the Prohibition-era American West, in wartime London, or on a Hollywood movie set, her research is invisible, allowing a fully immersive experience. Ingeniously structured and so damn entertaining; this novel is as ambitious as its heroines - but it never falls from the sky.' - Kirkus

'Impressive and gripping.' - Sunday Times

'Shipstead's breathaking epic of a female aviator is a stunning feat.' - Publisher Weekly

'Transcendent ... A rolling, roiling epic ... Through the interwoven stories of impetuous flyer Marian Graves and flavor-of-the-month actress Hadley Baxter, Shipstead ponders the motivating forces behind acts of daring defiance, self-fulfilment and self-destruction. An ambitious, soaring saga..' -  Booklist

'Underpinning it all is a reverence for nature, thrumming in the forests of Montana, the jagged peaks of Alaska and the stupefying ice shelves of the Antarctic. Exhilarating, masterful depictions ... invites readers to contemplate both magnitude and majesty.' - Bookpage

'This new work from the award-winning Shipstead (Seating Arrangements) justifies its length, by its intricately designed plot and by giving its compelling cast of characters room to breathe. As Hadley learns some of Marian's secrets (the ones that weren't in the script) readers will wonder how much we can truly know anyone. Highly recommended.' - Library Journal

'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.' - The Independent

'A gorgeous soaring story that takes flight from the very first page.' - Sunday Express

'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

'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

'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

'A clever, poignant story about ambition, love and sacrifice that'll completely draw you in.' - Cosmopolitan

'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.' - LA Times

'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

'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

'One of the most hotly anticipated novels of the spring.' - Mariella Frostdrop, Times Radio

'Vast and entrancing.' - BA High Life

'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

'Nothing short of brilliant.' - Oprah Daily

'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

'The Marian portions rove from Montana to Manhattan to Scotland and Antarctica, and read like a carnival of early-20t-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

'Grand, audacious and completely engrossing.' - Daily Mirror

'This ambitious, wide-ranging and psychologically insightful novel is a tour-de-force.' - Daily Express

'A riveting novel with powerful characters that will excite, shock and enthral.' - Psychologies Magazine

'This epic novel tops 600 pages but you'll still want more. Ambitious, cannily constructed and entertaining.' - Mail on Sunday

'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

'It is rare to read a novel that is as beautifully built as it is elegantly written. Moving and surprising at every turn.' - The Guardian

'Encompasses flight, travel adventure, identity, sexuality, family, the celebrity age - and in such beautiful writing. A masterpiece.' - Nigella Lawson

'Ambitious, intricately detailed, rich and considered.' - The Independent

'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

'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

'There is not a spare word, nor a scene that isn't vital in moving the plot forward. As a feat of imagination alone the novel is a huge achievement, turning it into such a compelling narrative will make even other established novelists want to pack it in.' - The New European

'Mesmerizing.' - Tatler

'Daringly ambitious... a novel that invites the reader to immerse themselves in the sweep of history, the rich and detailed research... breathtaking.' - The Observer

'A work of epic proportions and rich, cinematic detail.' - Financial Times

'A generous, escapist treat.' - i-Paper

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“Where to begin? At the beginning of course. Because the beginning is messy, not on a map.”

“ Sitting Arrangement “ is one of my favourite books of all time. It has been seven years since then and I must say “ Great Circle” is definitely worth the wait.

The story has two main characters and two time lines.... More

Hardback edition
2 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 37

“Not enticing”

This book covers the life of Marion, rescued as a baby off a sinking ship, to her role in WW2 and then to her attempt to circumnavigate the world by air over the poles. The characters fell a bit flat for me and I am... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 18

“Those magnificent women in their flying machines”

I really wanted to like this book. It's set in a period I really like, of early aviation , with a focus on all those magnificent women in their flying machines. I don't care about aeroplanes, but I love... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 14

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