Originally broadcast Wednesday, January 18, 2023.
This program is made possible by The Bess Sheppard Morrison CLSC Fund
Great Circle is a “masterclass in historical fiction” according to The Telegraph. In effortless and dazzling prose, Maggie Shipstead weaves together an expansive story that covers more than a century.
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. Thereafter encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes, Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen 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, thrilling, alongside Marian’s own story, as the two women’s fates – and their hunger for self-determination vastly different geographies and times – collide.
Great Circle was shortlisted for both the 2021 Booker Prize and the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Maggie Shipstead is the New York Times-bestselling author of three novels and a short story collection. Her novel and CLSC selection Great Circle was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and a finalist for the Women’s Prize. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She lives in Los Angeles.
Originally recorded August 4, 2022.
About Chautauqua Institution: Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution's mission.