The Thread®

The stunning memoir that could make Hemingway jealous

'West with the Night' by Beryl Markham
"West with the Night" by Beryl Markham
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke to Jinny Amundson from Old Fox Books in Annapolis, Md.

Beryl Markham was the first person to fly solo, nonstop across the Atlantic, from east to west. She also wrote the kind of sentences that made Ernest Hemingway jealous.

“Hemingway was a huge fan, and he wishes he had written something like [Markham],” said bookseller Jinny Amundson. “It’s really lovely.”

Markham’s memoir, “West with the Night,” was first published in the 1940s, and it tells the story of her “growing up in Africa as a bush pilot, as a horse trainer at the age of 17, and the stories that she shares are so matter-of-fact at times, there’s an authenticity to that is so refreshing and enjoyable.”

Markham was born in England but raised in Kenya, when it was under British colonial rule.

Anyone who is a fan of Eric Larsen or Jon Krakauer will enjoy Markham’s memoir, Amundson said.

“Markham is one of the first and best — for me, and in a lot of people’s opinions — adventure novelists. … There’s a point where she gets attacked by a lion and then pretty much goes into what she had for dinner,” Amundson said. “It’s so interesting that she is able to pair the fantastical and just the ordinary, and still make something that’s enjoyable to read.”