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Publisher's Summary

West with the Night is the story of a remarkable woman molded and shaped by many things: the African jungle, a certain dog, horses, airplanes, friendships with white men and black. There is no life, no story quite like it.
©1942, 1983 Beryl Markham. Recorded by arrangement with North Point Press, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC (P)2003 The Arthur and Luce Klein Audio Collection, The Yale Collection of Historical Sound Recordings, Yale University Music Library

Critic Reviews

"Julie Harris' reading of aviatrix Beryl Markham's biography and celebration of Africa is an essential audiobook. Enjoy the magic of the spoken word and Harris' lovely performance." (AudioFile)

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    742
  • 4 Stars
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    50
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    42

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    229
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    126
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    38
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    29

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Top Notch Writing; Riveting Stories

Ernest Hemingway is on record praising the writing quality of Beryl Markham's book. It is easy to see why. Her writing style is spare, to the point, without gush, brooding or emotional baggage. She makes you feel you're there with her--whether hunting wild animals, watching a championship horse race or flying in search of a downed pilot, and her descriptions and comments are clever, original and memorable. "I managed to overcome my education" is one that comes to mind. "Wishful thinking often smothers reason" is another. Hers is an adventurous and unusual story: growing up as a small child on an African farm in the 1920's, making her living in the 1930's training race horses in Kenya and then flying planes for safari hunters, followed by her "West with the Night" story when she made the first solo trans-Atlantic flight from England to North America in 1936. One interesting side note: her stories tell us much more about Bror Blixen, the husband of Karen Blixen, than did "Out of Africa."

I note from other reviews there is some question whether this book was ghost-written by her husband who was a Hollywood screenwriter. Given her life devoted to hunting, horse training and flying, it does seem remarkable that she could then write a book of such high quality. We don't have to worry about this question, however. The stories are clearly based on her life and experience, which are extremely interesting. Regardless of who actually authored the text, the writing is top quality and well worth the read.

115 of 118 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Deborah
  • Wylie, TX, United States
  • 07-04-11

Exciting story

The book is a wonderful story of culture and courage. I've rated many books here, but I must comment on a narrator for the first time. Julie Harris' reading brought the story to life..It brought me to tears and breathlessness during the horse race that I will not forget.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written memoir

Such a beautifully written book! I would have loved to know Beryl Markham. Although I have no doubt that she was a unique and extremely intelligent individual, I think the biggest reason she was so successful at so many things is because no one told her she couldn't or shouldn't be. She was an animal lover, humanitarian, horse trainer, and pilot in the wilds of Africa. Her prose is insightful, clever, thoughtful and beautiful! As memoirs go, this is one of the best.

The narration of Julie Harris is absolutely top notch.

28 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

West with the Night

I loved this book! I bought it on a whim and am so very glad I did. The stories she tells range from touching to exciting. She paints a beautiful picture of a time and place that has now vanished. And the narration is exquisite. I had to stop at one point to see if it was narrated by the author, the voice was so authentic. Definitely one of my top five audio books ever!

42 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tom
  • Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 11-16-09

West With the Night

A remarkable story rich in characterization and place and read with mesmerizing enchantment by Julie Harris. I have listened to this over and over, and it still holds me in its thrall.

39 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Barbara
  • Houston, Texas, United States
  • 04-08-11

Remarkably written by a most remarkable woman

When I first started listening to this book I thought to myself "Could this book REALLY be such an outstanding piece of literature, or does the narrator, Julie Harris, just make it seem that way?"
I had known about Beryl Markham since right about the time of her death in 1986, and she is one of the people who most influenced my life.

But it was not until, while researching correlations and contrasts with Amelia Earhart (another big influence), that I came across an obscure quote by Ernest Hemmingway in which he stated "Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West With The Night? ...She has written so well, and marvellously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But this girl, who is to my knowledge very unpleasant and we might even say a high-grade bitch, can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers ... it really is a bloody wonderful book." * Imagine THAT!
I totally agree that it is a marvelous read!
* Beryl Markham-Wikipedia

38 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A story that takes flight

For as cool a character as Markham was this book is laced with supressed emotion, longing, grief, love and wonder. The narrator Julie Harris does a truly stunning job of giving life to the words. I can argue a bit with the technical presentation, it's a bit shaky, there's audio feedback coming through from somewhere, there's the sound of pages turning. Harris herself mispronounces numerous Kenyan place names. This is quibbling however. I loved the book and I loved the narration. At points while I was on my daily commute in the NY subway system I had to stop , take a few moments, let the story take over. This is transporting work and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

I love this narrator!

Would you consider the audio edition of West with the Night to be better than the print version?

I love listening to this kind of story. The author is excellent at discribing the landscape, charactors and animals of Africa.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is a story about Beryl Markham, the author.

What does Julie Harris bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Excellent Narrator - one of my favorite voices on Audible.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No - best if absorbed in small chunks.

Any additional comments?

Very enjoyable story. If you are a PETA person, you won't appreciate the fact that the author was a pilot for Elephant hunters when it was legal in Africa. The story jumps around a bit, so you don't get a feel for the author's age and I lost track of dates, so a bit hard to follow.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lydia
  • Austin, Texas
  • 04-08-11

Excellent

I found the book fabulous - it has a wonderful description of the culture of native peoples as well as of pure adventure.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • carrie
  • North Texas, United States
  • 07-14-11

What an interesting lady!

Beryl can be a bit long-winded at times (its like listening patiently to a senior tell an intrigiung tale) and the narrator occasionally has a faint but audible nasal whistle, but other than those two minor things, I loved this story. Excellent writing, excellent narration. Highly recommended.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful