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"Great Circle" by Maggie Shipstead is a long read at 589 pages, but one you'll wish would never end — an ambitious, precisely researched novel that centers around fraternal twins rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner. Orphaned, they are sent to live with their uncle in Montana, who is a negligent guardian. Jamie is sensitive and artistic while Marian is bold, mechanically inclined and extremely independent.

After a chance ride with barnstorming fliers around 1925, Marian falls in love with flight and doggedly pursues her aviation dreams. She flies for Britain and the U.S. in World War II, but her ultimate goal is to circumnavigate the globe over both the North and South Poles.

There is much detail and history here, not only of aviation, but of other colorful events spanning nearly a century, such as bootlegging during Prohibition and how airplanes played a huge part in creating an industry of smuggling alcohol across the country. Hollywood enters by way of a film detailing Marian's disappearance over Antarctica and her other adventures. This is a book to savor.

PENELOPE JOHNSON, Eden Prairie

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