Flight of Dreams: Book summary and reviews of Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

Flight of Dreams

by Ariel Lawhon

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon X
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2016
    336 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

With everyone onboard harboring dark secrets and at least one person determined to make sure the airship doesn't make the return trip, Flight of Dreams gives an utterly suspenseful, heart-wrenching explanation for one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century.

On the evening of May 3, 1937, Emilie Imhof boards the Hindenburg. As the only female crewmember, Emilie has access to the entire airship, from the lavish dining rooms and passenger suites to the gritty engine cars and control room. She hears everything, but with rumors circulating about bomb threats, Emilie's focus is on maintaining a professional air...and keeping her own plans under wraps.

What Emilie can't see is that everyone - from the dynamic vaudeville acrobat to the high-standing German officer - seems to be hiding something.

Giving free rein to countless theories of sabotage, charade, and mishap, Flight of Dreams takes us on the thrilling three-day transatlantic flight through the alternating perspectives of Emilie; Max, the ship's navigator who is sweet on her; Gertrud, a bold female journalist who's been blacklisted in her native Germany; Werner, a thirteen-year-old cabin boy with a bad habit of sneaking up on people; and a brash American who's never without a drink in his hand.

Everyone knows more than they initially let on, and as the novel moves inexorably toward its tragic climax, the question of which of the passengers will survive the trip infuses every scene with a deliciously unbearable tension.

With enthralling atmospheric details that immediately transport and spellbinding plotting that would make Agatha Christie proud, Flight of Dreams will keep you guessing till the last page. And, as The New York Times Book Review said of her last novel, "This book is more meticulously choreographed than a chorus line. It all pays off."

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Lawhon threads many stories together, connecting passengers and crew and bringing behind-the-scenes depth and humanity to a great 20th-century tragedy - even though we all know the Hindenburg's fate." - Publishers Weekly

"A clever, dramatic presentation of a tragic historical event. Suspenseful and fun." - Kirkus

"Ariel Lawhon has real vision and the writing chops to back it up...a fascinating blend of love and murder, big dreams and betrayal, history and pure imagination - I could not put it down." - Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and At the Water's Edge

"A story so vivid, it is impossible to pull away. Mystery, romance – it is all here, told in a mesmerizing tale." - Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker

"Intricately plotted and deftly characterized, this beautifully written novel is wonderfully satisfying - historical fiction at its best." - Alex George, author of A Good American

"It's a sign of an extremely talented writer who can take a story that's been told before and tell it in a completely new imaginative way that is so compelling and exciting." - Charles Belfoure, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Architect and House of Thieves

"A magnificent, tour-de-force story ... Simply spectacular - I've never read anything like it. Lawhon has written the book of the year. She's a writer to watch - now, and for many years to come." - J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of What Lies Behind

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Reader Reviews

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Davida Chazan

Titanic Flight
The Hindenburg was the famous Nazi zeppelin that blew up just as it was about to land in New Jersey in 1937. Built to be a modern aviation miracle, and the last word in luxury travel, this incident was not only tragic, but like the 1936 Olympics, it was quickly a black spot on Germany's national pride, at the exact time when they were trying to show their superiority in every way, shape or form possible. More importantly, why it blew up remains a mystery to this day. However, through the vivid imagination of Ariel Lawhon, we get a theory that until now, no one ever hypothesized, and thereby she turns history into a stunning mystery action novel!

Much like her previous novel, The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress, Lawhon tells this story by spotlighting a select group of crew and passengers, with each chapter focusing on a different person. In this case, Lawhon chose the stewardess, the journalist, the navigator, the American and the cabin boy. This is where Lawhon truly shines - taking facts of real events and people, making up fictional relationships and actions and then combining it all into a mystery that is both true and imagined, with a similar mix of solutions. Furthermore, Lawhon knows how to add background information that sounds like a perfectly natural part of the action, and thereby makes even the real-life events sound even more like part of the fiction.

Of course, this wouldn't work if Lawhon didn't write this to perfection, with each character so carefully developed and well rounded that we are sure the relationships she describes must have been for real. In the author's note, Lawhon tells us that practically all of the survivors called everything that happened prior to the explosion as "uneventful," but Lawhon doesn't believe them. That's probably why Lawhon decided to fill the five days crossing Europe and the Atlantic with many interesting events. Furthermore, she includes some sleuthing on the part of some of the passengers and crew, as well. Lawhon must have poured over the manifests of the crew and passengers and while checking the facts for consistency, so she could put together a set of back-stories for each of the main characters and thereby place each one into her spiders' web of connections. Using this formula, one could almost say that Lawhon takes historical fiction to a completely new level.

If that wasn't enough, Lawhon uses a very carefully calculated pace with this book. At the beginning of the novel, the separate stories gently rise and slowly start to blend into each other through some slight back-tracking from focus character to focus character. As the flight gets underway, the characters float around each other, intermingling and parting, as if on a breeze. As the time of the explosion nears, the speed of the stories start to increase and by the time we get to the explosion itself, the pace builds to a frenetic climax. Then, in the aftermath, everything takes just the right amount of time to slow and cool down, as she finishes telling each of the various stories. As you can see, this pacing is the perfect mirror of the flight itself, and you might find your heart rate increasing as you get to the climax, as well as at a loss for breath until you get to the last few chapters.

The only drawback I can find in this book is that I'm not totally convinced that all of the after-story chapters were completely necessary, but their brevity made up any feelings of it being overly drawn-out. Still, this tiny niggle isn't enough for me to reduce my rating by even half a star, so I'm giving it a full five out of five and recommending this wholeheartedly!

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Author Information

Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is cofounder of the popular website SheReads.org. A novelist, blogger, and lifelong reader, she lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, and black lab - who is, thankfully, a girl.

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