-- New York Times Book Review On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Read more...
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-- New York Times Book Review On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. 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 spot on the world's largest airship; 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 hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed. Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them. Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-12-07
- Reviewer: Staff
For her second outing, Lawhon (The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress) once again reimagines a front-page news event, filling in the entertaining backstory with passion, secrets, and nail-biting suspense, this time taking on the disastrous crash of the Hindenburg in 1937. Using the actual passenger list from the doomed airship, the author has concocted a romance between two key crew members, Max Zabel, one of the ships navigators, and Emilie Imhoff, the first German stewardess hired for an airship. Since the definitive cause of the Hindenburgs demise remains a mystery, Lawhon has conceived a plausible explanation that involves an act of revenge against one of the crew members, who, in World War I, flew the airship that bombed London and killed an American passengers brother. The tale is fleshed out with other characters, including a lively acrobatic entertainer named Joseph Späh; a journalist, Gertrud Adelt, whose press credentials were recently revoked by the Nazis for her outspokenness; and the cabin boy, Werner Franz, whose trip on the Hindenburg was more of a passage to adulthood than he ever could have imagined. Lawhon threads many stories together, connecting passengers and crew and bringing behind-the-scenes depth and humanity to a great 20th-century tragedyeven though we all know the Hindenburgs fate. (Feb.)
On board the doomed voyage of the Hindenburg
A day in anyone’s life can seem ordinary. But when those moments are taken together, and especially when they intersect with the lives of others, a bigger story emerges.That’s evident from the early pages of Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon, a novel in which the author poses a theory for what could have brought down the famed German airship Hindenburg.
Even a reader without a firm grasp on history knows the ship is doomed. But what happened on board to create the fiery blast that destroyed the ship and dozens of lives in only 34 seconds? After all, as was recorded in the disaster’s investigation and newspapers, it was an uneventful flight.
Through the perspectives of passengers and crew members, Lawhon deftly draws readers into the lives of the cabin boy, the navigator and the stewardess. The latter two are romantically entangled, hiding their involvement from the rest of the crew even as the lovesick navigator and the widowed stewardess work out what’s ahead for their relationship. Then there are the passengers, including a mysterious American and a curious journalist. As each shares his or her insight into the others around them, an explanation for the ship’s ultimate demise begins to come into focus.
As with her debut novel, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress, Lawhon uses real-life people and their stories, drawing from what is known about the ship’s passengers and crew to construct believable characters. Flight of Dreams melds historical fiction, a touch of romance and mystery to create a tale that becomes more difficult to put down as the disaster draws near.