New York Times Best Seller
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize
A Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick
The unforgettable story of a daredevil female aviator determined to chart her own course in life, at any cost — Great Circle “soars and dips with dizzying flair.... An expansive story that covers more than a century and seems to encapsulate the whole wide world” (Boston Globe).
“A masterpiece.... One of the best books I’ve ever read.” (J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Friends and Strangers)
After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There - after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up 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, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.
A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian's disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian's own story, as the two women's fates - and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times - collide. Epic and emotional, meticulously researched and gloriously told, Great Circle is a monumental work of art, and a tremendous leap forward for the prodigiously gifted Maggie Shipstead.
One of the Best Books of the Year: Time, NPR, Washington Post, Boston Globe, LitHub, and more
"Great Circle is a masterpiece...one of the best books I’ve ever read." (J. Courtney Sullivan)
"A sumptuous epic...exhilarating...this book delivers a series of ahas, of sweet, provocative points of contemplation that make the reader feel alive." (Leigh Haber, Oprah Daily)
"A soaring work of historical fiction.... So convincingly does Shipstead stitch her fictional heroine into the daring flight paths of early aviators that you’ll be convinced that you remember the tragic day her plane disappeared. Great Circle is a relentlessly exciting story about a woman maneuvering her way between tradition and prejudice to get what she wants. It’s also a culturally rich story that takes full advantage of its extended length to explore the changing landscape of the 20th century. My top recommendation for this summer." (Ron Charles, The Washington Post)