Great Circle

Great Circle

4.16 (10,727 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 6-11 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.


For fans of The Goldfinch, All the Light We Cannot See and The Girls: this monumentally powerful epic weaves together the astonishing lives of a daredevil female aviator and the Hollywood rebel who will play her on screen.

'Outrageously gifted' RICHARD RUSSO
'Ferociously clever' GUARDIAN

From the days of giant passenger ships sliding past Arctic icebergs, to the daring pilots of WWII, to present-day Hollywood and its malcontents, at the core of this story is the indomitable Marian Graves and her twin brother Jamie who are twice abandoned by their parents. Marian and Jamie grow up roaming Montana forests, more comfortable with landscape than with people.
When a pair of aerobats take their exhilarating show to a nearby airfield, Marian's life is changed forever. Watching them roll, dive, and loop in their mini plane, she can think of nothing else but flying. As she grows into a woman, she sacrifices everything to command the breathtaking sense of freedom, of utter control over her own fate, that she feels when in the air. She becomes one of the most fearless pilots of her time, and in 1949 she sets out to do what no one has done before: fly the Great Circle around the earth, north to south around the poles. Shortly before completing the journey, her plane disappears, lost to history.
In 2015, Hadley Baxter, former child star and poster girl of the blockbuster Archangel franchise, has just been fired for cheating on her on-screen boyfriend. Struggling to escape the fury of the fans, she grasps at an offer for the comeback role of a lifetime: to play the famed female pilot Marian Graves in a biopic. From the first pages of the script, she feels an instant connection with Marian, a woman who refused to be bound by gravity or any of the other strictures of her time. After filming is complete, her bond grows stronger as she begins to question whether the Great Marian Graves really did die at all.

Maggie Shipstead is the author of the bestselling and prize-winning debut novel SEATING ARRANGMENTS.With GREAT CIRCLE, she cements her place among a famed list of American Literary Stars as one of the greatest storytellers of our time.
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 602 pages
  • 156 x 240 x 42mm | 816g
  • Doubleday
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0857526804
  • 9780857526809
  • 632

Review Text

A gorgeous soaring story that takes flight from the very first page
show more

Review quote

Luminous, masterful ... glides seamlessly through the 20th century immersing the reader. Tremendously well-written. * TELEGRAPH * A gripping historical adventure that feels sharp, fresh and modern * STYLIST MAGAZINE * This is truly exceptional storytelling, combining a sweeping arc of history with writing that, at sentence level, is near-flawless * BOOKSELLER, A Fiction Pick of the Year * Effortlessly woven... deserves to be savoured slowly * EVENING STANDARD * Shipstead turns phrases and observes people beautifully. Full of adventure, passion and tragedy... a glorious tribute to women who push the boundaries of their one, brief life, breaking the bonds of their place in history and their female bodies, to soar higher and faster than others; and the price they pay to live so fast * THE TIMES * Impressive and gripping * SUNDAY TIMES * Accomplished and ambitious... Most novelists have their limits and cut their cloth accordingly. Shipstead is a writer who can vividly summon whatever she chooses, taking the reader deep inside the world she creates. * FINANCIAL TIMES * Rocked by the cool cadences of Shipstead's prose, readers will embark on a journey through time and space. Across 600 pages, they'll link arms with its characters as they stroll along the decks of early-1900s ocean liners, then board private jets to eavesdrop on the poolside parties of 21st-century Hollywood. They'll spot eagles arcing over the wild frontiers of Prohibition-era America then feel the lonely, existential chill of the white expanses of Antarctica - in between city breaks in Europe and Australia * INDEPENDENT * A gorgeous soaring story that takes flight from the very first page * SUNDAY EXPRESS * What's so impressive is how deeply we care about each of these people, and how the shape and texture of each of their stories collide to build a story all its own. GREAT CIRCLE grasps for and ultimately reaches something extraordinary * NEW YORK TIMES * This wonderful novel weaves together the story of two women: a female aviator who goes missing in the1950s and the Hollywood star playing her in a film in the present day. A commitment that rewards with memorable characters and vivid storytelling * GOOD HOUSEKEEPING * GREAT CIRCLE is a novel of our insatiable need to stare down the terrible, magnificent vastness of it all: love, war, desire, fear ... A sweeping, swashbuckling book, full of oversaturated colour and grand destiny. The joy of this dynamic, soaring novel is not a welcome extra but its very engine * TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT * The Marian portions rove from Montana to Manhattan to Scotland and Antarctica, and read like a carnival of early-20t-century American history, packed with bootleggers, treacherous boxcar rides, and tragic shipwrecks. The Hadley chapters offer a delectable dissection of life as a celebrity, serving up an intelligent skewering of the Hollywood machine and allowing the book to take flight * VOGUE * Underpinning it all is a reverence for nature, thrumming in the forests of Montana, the jagged peaks of Alaska and the stupefying ice shelves of the Antarctic. Exhilarating, masterful depictions ... invites readers to contemplate both magnitude and majesty * BOOKPAGE [Starred review] * A clever, poignant story about ambition, love and sacrifice that'll completely draw you in * COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE * One of the most hotly anticipated novels of the spring * MARIELLA FROSTRUP, TIMES RADIO * Vast and entrancing * BA HIGH LIFE * Nothing short of brilliant * OPRAH DAILY * Grand, audacious and completely engrossing * DAILY MIRROR * This ambitious, wide-ranging and psychologically insightful novel is a tour-de-force * DAILY EXPRESS * A riveting novel with powerful characters that will excite, shock and enthral * PSYCHOLOGIES MAGAZINE * This epic novel tops 600 pages but you'll still want more. Ambitious, cannily constructed and entertaining * MAIL ON SUNDAY * From near-death experience in childhood, to marriage to a bootlegger, Marian rockets off the page in this gripping novel. A staggering story * SUNDAY TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE * It is rare to read a novel that is as beautifully built as it is elegantly written. Moving and surprising at every turn * GUARDIAN * Encompasses flight, travel adventure, identity, sexuality, family, the celebrity age - and in such beautiful writing. A masterpiece. * NIGELLA LAWSON * Ambitious, intricately detailed, rich and considered * INDEPENDENT * Glitz and guts square off in Great Circle: a tale of two women set apart by a century, fighting to retain control of their own lives in a society that demands subservience. Shipstead is adept at writing so vividly, the reader can feel the thrill and pain of her characters. Cunningly crafted. . . richly layered, a joy to read . . . riveting * THE SPOKESMAN REVIEW * A WOMAN'S WEEKLY BOOK CLUB READ * MY WEEKLY * Great Circle is an epic trip-through Prohibition and World War II, from Montana to London to present-day Hollywood-and you'll relish every minute * PEOPLE MAGAZINE * Mesmerizing * TATLER * Daringly ambitious... a novel that invites the reader to immerse themselves in the sweep of history, the rich and detailed research... breathtaking * OBSERVER * A work of epic proportions and rich, cinematic detail * FINANCIAL TIMES, BEST OF SUMMER BOOKS * A generous, escapist treat * i-PAPER, 30 BEST BOOKS FOR SUMMER * Books to look forward to in 2021 * GUARDIAN, INDEPENDENT, NEW STATESMAN * One of the most hotly anticipated books of the spring * MARIELLA FROSTRUP * Sweepingly panoramic. An immersive saga * DAILY MAIL * An enthralling epic about aviation and adventure. A big, baggy blast of a book bulging with sex and drugs, taking in Prohibition-era Montana, wartime London, present-day Hollywood, painting and physics. I loved it * REBECCA JONES, BBC ARTS CORRESPONDENT * Bestselling novelist Maggie Shipstead was struggling to depict a female adventurer. So she became one. The stakes of GREAT CIRCLE are high-for its heroine, literally life or death. Though Shipstead never learned to fly herself, she aligned with her main character Marian Graves in more important ways . . . She is interested in testing her limits * L A TIMES * Swinging from one century to the next, from the moneyed splendor of cities to the shifting Antarctic ice, Shipstead's prose overflows with meticulous detail * MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE * Whether Shipstead is creating scenes in the Prohibition-era American West, in wartime London, or on a Hollywood movie set, her research is invisible, allowing a fully immersive experience. Ingeniously structured and so damn entertaining; this novel is as ambitious as its heroines - but it never falls from the sky. * KIRKUS * Dazzling prose in the service of an expansive story that covers more than a century and seems to encapsulate the whole wide world. With detailed brilliance, she lavishes heart and empathy on every character. She never wavers, pulls out a twist or two that feel fully earned, and then sticks the landing * BOSTON GLOBE * This new work from the award-winning Shipstead (Seating Arrangements) justifies its length, by its intricately designed plot and by giving its compelling cast of characters room to breathe. As Hadley learns some of Marian's secrets (the ones that weren't in the script) readers will wonder how much we can truly know anyone. Highly recommended. * LIBRARY JOURNAL [starred review] * Shipstead's breathaking epic of a female aviator is a stunning feat * PUBLISHERS' WEEKLY * Relentlessly exciting . . . My top recommendation for this summer. Shipstead's sweeping new female-centered epic intertwines the story of Marian, an aviator who wants to circumnavigate the globe with that of actor Hadley Baxter, cast a century later to play Marian in a film. What can Marian's life tell Hadley about her own? * WASHINGTON POST * Transcendent ... A rolling, roiling epic ... Through the interwoven stories of impetuous flyer Marian Graves and flavor-of-the-month actress Hadley Baxter, Shipstead ponders the motivating forces behind acts of daring defiance, self-fulfilment and self-destruction. An ambitious, soaring saga. * BOOKLIST * In a moment when our quarantined worlds have become so small, GREAT CIRCLE offers more than just wanderlust; it feels like a liberation. * ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY *
show more

About Maggie Shipstead

MAGGIE SHIPSTEAD's debut novel SEATING ARRANGEMENTS was a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and L A Times Book Prize for First Fiction. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Guardian, Conde Nast Traveller, The Best American Short Stories and elsewhere. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford and a two- time National Magazine Award finalist for fiction. Her latest novel GREAT CIRCLE has been seven years in the writing and is due to be published around the world. Maggie Shipstead grew up in California and lives in Los Angeles, California.
show more

Rating details

10,727 ratings
4.16 out of 5 stars
5 42% (4,543)
4 38% (4,059)
3 15% (1,570)
2 4% (389)
1 2% (166)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X