Walking down a tree-lined block in the East 80s the other day I passed a brownstone with a pretty patio fronting the street. There on a small table someone had left an open library book.
Always curious about what others are reading, I looked through the wrought iron gate to see the title – it was Beryl Markham’s 1942 memoir West with the Night. You may know of Markham, the British-born Kenyan aviator who in 1936 became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
A free spirit, Markham defied the conventions of her day that dictated what a woman could and could not do. In West with the Night she tells her remarkable story against the backdrop of her beloved Africa, with it’s glorious landscapes and vibrant people, and all it’s colonial failings.
Anne Tyler, another fine writer, has said, “We read so we can live more than one life in more than one time and place.”
So I’m sure whoever left that open book on that Manhattan patio is thousands of miles away by now, flying through the African sky with Beryl Markham. Or perhaps he or she is back at the library, ready to live another life in another time and place.
Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!