Summary and book reviews of Crossing the Horizon by Laurie Notaro

Crossing the Horizon

by Laurie Notaro

Crossing the Horizon by Laurie Notaro
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2016, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 27, 2017, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Book Summary

Soar back to the fearless 1920s with #1 New York Times bestselling writer Laurie Notaro - beloved author of The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club - in a stunning historical novel that tells the true, little-known story of three aviatrixes in a race to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

Ten thousand feet in the sky, aviatrixes from London to Paris to New York - fueled by determination and courage - have their eyes on the century's biggest prize. The year is 1927, and Amelia Earhart has not yet made her record-breaking cross-Atlantic flight. Who will follow in Charles Lindbergh's footsteps and make her own history?

Three women's names are splashed daily across the front page: Elsie Mackay, daughter of an Earl, is the first Englishwoman to get her pilot's license. Mabel Boll, a glamorous society darling and former cigar girl, is ardent to make the historic flight. Beauty pageant contestant Ruth Elder uses her winnings for flying lessons and becomes the preeminent American girl of the sky.

Inspired by true events and real people, Notaro vividly evokes this exciting time as her determined heroines vie for the record. Through striking photos, meticulous research, and atmospheric prose, Notaro brings Elsie, Mabel, and Ruth to life, pulling us back in time as the pilots collide, struggle, and literally crash in the chase for fame and a place in aviation history.

PROLOGUE
CHRISTMAS EVE 1927

After the final plane check before her aircraft would take off, Frances Wilson Grayson, the niece of President Woodrow Wilson, addressed the crowd of reporters before her.

"All my life, Christmas has been the same," the stout and ruddy Grayson said. "The same friends, the same gifts that didn't mean anything. Telling people things you didn't mean. But this year will be different.

"All Lindbergh did was fly an airplane, and look at all the publicity he got," she announced. "We're finally going to fly the Atlantic. Ill be famous!"

She was determined that nothing could stop her from charging into her place in history. Not the weather, not the crew, and certainly not the other women who pined for the title that would be hers in a matter of hours.

She would be the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane.

The first. The only.

It would not be the English heiress, Elsie Mackay; the idiotic Ruth Elder; or ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Crossing the Horizon opens with an account of Elsie Mackay's narrow escape from death in an airplane piloted by her flight instructor. What does her behavior in the middle of this crisis reveal about her character? How does Elsie's appetite for adventure relate to the choices she makes in other aspects of her life?
  2. "Lord Inchcape had seen the will of his daughter evolve right before his eyes, her boldness take hold." (page12) How does Lord Inchcape's relationship with his third daughter, Elsie, change over the course of the novel? How do you interpret Inchcape's elaborate efforts to protect Elsie from harm—typical fatherly concern, the controlling behavior of an aristocrat used to getting his way, or something else ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Crossing the Horizon is an engaging and well-written novel about the early days of flight and three intrepid women who dared to be pioneers of this new form of travel. This highly satisfying account is sure to win Notaro many new fans and introduce readers to this fascinating and little-known aspect of history.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

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Best known for her offbeat essays on contemporary topics, Notaro breaks new literary ground and demonstrates an intuitive sense of narrative and indelible appreciation for history's ironies in this engrossing novel.

Kirkus Reviews

Notaro portrays this exciting sliver of time with historical accuracy, providing an authentic glimpse of the era (including photographs), and then adds a pump of adrenaline by including dialogue and drama of her own imagination, creating a captivating historical fiction. Be prepared to hold tight as you're boosted into the cockpit for a two-day flight across the horizon. The odds of making it are against you - but what a ride!

Publishers Weekly

Elsie, Mabel, and Ruth defied the odds stacked against them, and their indomitable spirits and vibrant, larger-than-life personalities provide much inspiration.

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Beyond the Book

Early Aviatrixes

In Crossing the Horizon, author Laurie Notaro highlights the lives of three women who dared to attempt flight across the Atlantic Ocean during the early days of air travel. They were not the only ones who defied expectation by taking such risks. The novel mentions three other women who also took on the daunting challenge of transatlantic flight:

Princess Anne of Lowenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg (1864-1927) was born in London, the youngest daughter of John Savile, 4th Earl of Mexborough. At 33, she married Prince Ludwig of Lowenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg (a province of the German Empire) in a lavish ceremony. Her husband disappeared from London mysteriously less than a year after they were wed, and only later did she learn he was killed in...

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