• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Shipstead has created two independent, defiant, appealingly strong young women split by time. I was hooked on both story lines and just loved this.

Great Circle spans the wilds of Prohibition-era Montana, the blustery Pacific Northwest, the unforgiving chill of Alaska, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the movie-making business, and the stark, brutal dangers of Antarctica, from the early twentieth century to modern day.


In interconnected stories--which felt equally compelling to me--Shipstead brings to life these disparate places and times and focuses on various colorful characters within them.


Great Circle traces events starting with a sinking ocean liner in 1914 and the introduction of Marian and James, twin babies rescued from that tragedy; it follows the path of the twins' lives as they grow up; the story tracks young Marian's ignited passion for aviation and her adventures; and the book injects a modern-day story line in which a famous young actress takes on the role of Marian for a film.


Shipstead has created two independent, defiant, appealingly strong young women split by time (and, secondarily, the complex male characters they each love as family or romantic partners). Both of the main characters are orphans, both were raised by indulgent, imperfect uncles, and both are constantly reinventing themselves as they aim to live fulfilling lives, but otherwise their situations are altogether different.

Shipstead is a wonderful writer, and I loved every word of this. Both of the timelines had me hooked.

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I mentioned this book in the Greedy Reading List Three Books I'm Reading Now, 4/28/21 Edition. I received a prepublication copy of Great Circle courtesy of Knopf Publishing Group and NetGalley.


Shipstead is also the author of Astonish Me and Seating Arrangements.