The lives of a fearless female aviator and the actress who portrays her on screen decades later intersect in Maggie Shipstead’s vivid, soaring novel.

Marian Graves was a daredevil all her life, from her wild childhood in the forests of Montana to her daring wartime Spitfire missions. In 1950, she sets off on her ultimate adventure, the Great Circle - a flight around the globe. She is never seen again. Half a century later, Hadley Baxter, a scandal-ridden Hollywood actress, whose own parents perished in a plane crash, is irresistibly drawn to play Marian Graves. This role will lead her to uncover the real mystery behind the vanished pilot.

The 2021 Booker Prize
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Maggie Shipstead

Maggie Shipstead

About the Author

Maggie Shipstead is an American novelist who lives in Los Angeles. She is shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize with Great Circle - her third novel.
More about Maggie Shipstead

I’m sadly incapable of planning my books. I wish I could, but instead I just have to leap and then hope I’m able to resolve all the problems I create

Listen to an extract from Great Circle

In Great Circle Shipstead conducts some glorious mythmaking of her own

Maggie Shipstead and Curtis Sittenfeld in conversation

Maggie Shipstead joined novelist Curtis Sittenfeld to discuss Great Circle at an event for Our Bookshop in Tring. The pair discuss how Shipstead was working on another novel, which she abandoned, before the idea for Great Circle came to her, and how a statue at Auckland Airport inspired the book.

‘I think this is a much larger book than I had planned to write,’ says Shipstead.

Watch the full conversation below.

Maggie Shipstead, wearing headphones, looking at the camera while sitting in a room with antlers on the wall behind her.

Watch the 'Great Circle' shortlist film

2021 Booker Prize chair of judges Maya Jasanoff discusses 'Great Circle'