DiscoverWomen's Fiction

In Circling Flight


Loved it! 😍

Jane Harrington might be the master of crafting stories and characters so connected to our environment, with such realism and poignancy.

Set in the Appalachian mountains in today’s United States, In Circling Flight intertwines the lives of Leda, living alone on a farm after having recently lost her partner, and Shannon, a single mother trying to negotiate a bright future for her children despite the environmental destruction transpiring in the county. As the novel progresses and friendships grow deeper, tales from Ireland are woven into the story and echo the characters’ lives on US land.

“You know, people go through actual grieving when they watch mountaintop removal in their homeplaces. I’ve seen it. First they’re stunned. Then they get upset with themselves for not trying to stop it. Then they’re depressed, then angry, and finally they just try to forget.”

But this novel won't allow anyone to forget. With her incredible storytelling skills, Jane Harrington transports you into the lives of a community fighting to keep its mountains against coal companies, a widow stumbling upon grief and newfound friendships, a man fighting PTSD and getting back on his feet, a single mother raising her children and finding love, an Irish family emigrating for a better life… A collection of characters whose complexity Jane Harrington renders with realism and warmth.

The opening of the novel, letters of a widow to her late husband, is so intimate and immediately occasions sympathy for Leda. The writing— honest, touching— feels like a warm embrace. Time stops as the reader is absorbed in reading about Leda’s life on the farm. The descriptions of nature, especially of the sky, are exquisite and will soothe the reader, a reminder of how small we are in this vast world.  

Jane Harrington paints a picture of countryside America— inequal, lonely but also beautiful and connected. The prose comes alive and you swear you could see the scenes playing before your eyes. It is not long before you will grow attached to the characters, seeing their lives unravel as the seasons go by.

To readers seeking an emotional and reflective novel, this book is for you! The novel is perfectly paced, with a good balance between gorgeous descriptions and exciting events unfolding. It’s also a novel teaching about our contemporary world and its issues— environmental inequalities, poverty, immigration... It criticises the American system that exploits nature and people, but remains full of hope as its characters won’t accept this fatality and seek to fight for a better world. The end is a little abrupt: at this point, we just keep wanting more. It is 4/5 stars for this novel which honours the Appalachian mountains and their inhabitants in such marvellous prose.

Reviewed by

English language and literature graduate. I heartily believe that stories can change the world, for the better. In a quest for new worlds and wonders, and hoping to help people discover amazing books with my reviews.

Dear John, I’ve Fallen for a Dog,

About the author

Jane Harrington's literary fiction and lyric prose have appeared in a range of publications. Her novel IN CIRCLING FLIGHT was the winner of the Brighthorse Books Prize. She has also authored books for children, and teaches wordcraft at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, USA. view profile

Published on June 01, 2022

Published by Brighthorse Books

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Women's Fiction

Reviewed by