Picks and Pans Review: Beryl Markham: a Shadow on the Sun
updated 05/16/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/16/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
It is thanks to Hemingway that Beryl Markham's book and life story came back to light. In 1942 Hemingway wrote to his editor, Max Perkins: "Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West with the Night?...She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer." Years later, in 1983, another editor read that letter and decided to republish Markham's memoirs about Africa. And now comes a two-part miniseries about her starring Stefanie Powers. Markham's life should be the stuff of which minis are made: She was raised in Kenya, became a horse trainer, married three times, stole the heart of a British prince, perhaps broke up the affair of Karen Blixen and Denys Finch-Hatton (a love brought to languid life by Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in Out of Africa) and became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic east to west. But like Hemingway, this fascinating tale is told as a series of biographical vignettes, not as a cohesive drama. Powers, the show's star and co-producer, obviously has much respect for Markham; both women lived in Kenya and both loved the land. But because the script is so sketchy and jumpy, we never get to know Markham as Powers does.