Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Review: Flight of Dreams

Summary: From a dazzling new voice in historical fiction, Flight of Dreams is a suspenseful, heart-wrenching novel that brings the fateful voyage of the Hindenburg to life.

On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent position; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle.

Over the course of three champagne-soaked days, their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future will be revealed—and one in their party will set a plot in motion that will have devastating consequences for them all. -- Doubleday

I'm using the start of the new year to catch up on some old reviews. My book club actually read FLIGHT OF DREAMS by Ariel Lawhon a few months back, and for the most part, everyone really enjoyed it. I count myself in that group. And while I didn't love the book because of a few weaknesses in the mystery aspect of the novel, I did find it extremely interesting to learn more about the Hindenburg.

FLIGHT OF DREAMS is a fictional account of the doomed flight of the Hindenburg. I knew next to nothing about this fateful voyage outside of the destruction and loss of lives, and I was actually quite surprised that there isn't an earlier historical fiction story about the Hindenburg -- or maybe there is and I'm just not familiar with it. Either way, this novel begins on May 3rd, 1937, when 97 people boarded the zeppelin. Little did they know what would await them over the next three days.

Ms. Lawhon did a terrific job in creating interesting characters and bringing them to life. There is a stewardess with a lot of secrets, a navigator who is in love with her, a young cabin boy who is trying to establish himself for a future career (and more money for his family), a German journalist who has been blacklisted, and an American businessman. She also does a great job in detailing their interactions with each other.

As interesting as these characters were, it was apparent from the start of the novel that Ms. Lawhon wanted to weave a story full of mystery and intrigue. She provided enough secrets and hints to put many of the characters and their actions into doubt. And since we still don't know what really happened to the Hindenburg, she had plenty of room to create some interesting scenarios. I'm not sure  she wrote the tightest mystery I've ever read, but I consider FLIGHT OF DREAMS to be primarily a historical novel... and I think she was successful in providing a fictionalized account of the Hindenburg tragedy.

Since I tend to learn history from novels (I know, I know!), you'll be happy to know that I actually looked into the history of the Hindenburg after finishing this book. As far as I can tell, the author was true to the story except where she admitted to taking a few artistic liberties. The story of the cabin boy is truly the most amazing one in the novel as far as I'm concerned and that was actually based on reality. The scene where she describes what happened to him as the terror was taking place aboard the zeppelin was very well-written and dramatic... and truly remarkable!

FLIGHT OF DREAMS is a good choice for book clubs. My group found plenty to talk about between the historical aspects of the novel and the unique characters. There is a reading guide available with eight questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include class, status, Nazi Germany, secrets, love affairs, and adventure.

FLIGHT OF DREAMS is a well-written novel that is certain to entertain fans of historical fiction and readers who want to learn more about the Hindenburg tragedy.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I almost always look up history after reading historical fiction. I know nothing about the Hindenburg but feel like I should know more so this sounds interesting.

Kim@Time2Read said...

I read this one almost 2 years ago, shortly after it came out. I loved it (5 stars) but for some reason never reviewed it. I did know a bit about the Hindenburg. I think my Dad was a kid when it happened, and retained a fascination, so I heard bits and pieces when I was growing up.
I'm like you about historical fiction—it is only successful if I learn something and/or are inspired to look up more about it. Shortly after I read the book, I found a documentary about the cause of the disaster; probably PBS production and possibly on Netflix, but I don't remember the name of it. I enjoyed it though.