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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2021

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022

I was born to be a wanderer.

From the night she is rescued as a baby out of the flames of a sinking ship, to the day she joins a pair of daredevil pilots looping and diving over the rugged forests of her childhood, to the thrill of flying Spitfires during the war, the life of Marian Graves has always been marked by a lust for freedom and danger.

In 1950, she embarks on her life's dream - to fly a Great Circle around the globe, pole to pole. But after a crash landing, she finds herself stranded on the Antarctic ice without enough fuel. With one fearsome piece of water separating her from completion of the Circle, she writes one last entry in her logbook. 

She is ready for her final journey.

Half a century later, Hadley Baxter, a brilliant, troubled Hollywood starlet is irresistibly drawn to play Marian Graves, a role that will lead her to probe the deepest mysteries of the vanished pilot's life.

Great Circle is an enthralling journey over oceans and continents and a drama of exhilarating power. Combining unforgettable characters and thrilling suspense, it is a sweeping story of loss and obsession, sacrifice and survival, of the unknowable mysteries of freedom, love and life itself.

©2020 Maggie Shipstead (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Ferociously clever." (Guardian)

"Joyously good." (Daily Mail)

"Impressive." (Jeffrey Eugenides)

What listeners say about Great Circle

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A book that I didn't want to end

This beautiful novel describes the full life of an unusual hero - a woman with a life spanning three continents and all genders. She is comfortable choosing whichever mantle that gives her the route to her desire: mostly that desire is flying, but more often it is anonymity and solitude. There is a second storyline of the exploration and unrolling of her life by a modern movie star, with a contemporary voice; she is an opposite - ultra sexualised and firmly in the public eye. For me, the pathos in the novel comes from the contrast of the old world of privacy and freedoms, at a time when freedom for women was fragmentary and conditional, with the new world of complete freedom constrained by online scrutiny and the continuous presence of others. The novel makes our current world feel small and base, without idealising the past.

Although the novel is long, the beauty of the writing (and its reading) meant it could have gone on much longer and I would have remained happily lost. Evocative, slow, sometimes pitiless, more often deeply sympathetic, I had tears in my eyes when it ended. I can't imagine forgetting Marian, Jamie, and Caleb, and their small but important lives - or maybe huge, but unimportant lives? - in a hurry.

7 people found this helpful

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Fly. Fly to the horizon

Utterly absorbing. A family history, intertwined in great circles. Two women finding their way in worlds not so different. But totally different.
The narrators capture the characters perfectly. And be prepared to want the world for both of them: Marian and Hadley

7 people found this helpful

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A great read

I listened to this book all the way through, I needed to rewind it several times as I missed the odd sentence. This tells me it was a really good book.

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Brilliant

Loved it. Beautiful epic story, well researched, excellent narrator. Highly recommend. Top contender for the booker prize.

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superb story

great narration from both voices, real epic sweep.
Discovery of a life by the listener and the actress playing the part of the protagonist. very involving.

2 people found this helpful

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WHAT A JOY!!

I never wanted this audiobook to end; the characters are fascinating and I cared so deeply about all their individual histories, which are followed across many long lifetimes....I couldn't stop telling people about it and have recommended it to everyone!

When the bottle fails to smash on an ocean liners maiden voyage, could it really be a bad omen? Let this swirling history be the judge, as it paints a picture of bootleggers during Prohibition, of the first women, and men, to fly and the contribution those women made to the war effort, intertwined with a modern tale of a lost actor trying to find her real self within the Hollywood-franchised version she's currently battling with. There's just so much here to enjoy! Marian Graves feels like a heroine to me, fiction or no.

Super long audiobooks, when this brilliant, are an absolute joy...I left my bike at home & walked an hour each way to work, just to give myself more time to listen!

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Beautiful story, outstanding performance

Thanks Audible for this. I loved the epic story of the life of Marian Graves and the characters that were part of her amazing life
Performed by two women who bring the story to life and make Great Circle one of Audible’s very best.
It is totally involving and I was very sorry when I got to the end

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Brilliant

A great plateful of a novel. A proper yarn beautifully written and totally absorbing. The narrators brought it to life for me. It was recommended by a friend and I in turn recommend it.

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astonishing

what a glorious story. beautifully written, it sores above the clouds. the two readers are superb.

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long, but worth every minute

l loved especially the ability to read the different characters so well and distinctly. I am not sure I would have managed to read it and appreciated the audio version.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mary
  • 11-08-22

Waste of time

I wonder now how a book becomes a best seller (of anything)! The book was slow and boring and you can easily guess what will happen next!

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  • Ursula
  • 10-08-22

An epic tale...

...magnificently written, superbly narrated and deeply enjoyable. I highly recommend this book, the writer is gifted!

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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 26-04-22

Great read

great read and the narrators read well ....good twist near end.....will try other books of same author

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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 18-09-21

FANTASTIC!

The authors’ writing style creates such a rich tapestry for the imagination that the images and characters have taken fond residence in my mind. I have travelled not only through their incredibly fascinating intertwined lives but also through history and landscapes both from land and air in a way I have never experienced before…. I highly recommend this book and cross my fingers that it is awarded the Booker Prize 🤞🏻