Flight of Dreams
author : ariel lawhon
pages : [hardcover] 336
favorite character : werner franz
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.
Flight of Dreams is the exact book you need to read if you’ve ever been vaguely interested about the Hindenburg. Better yet, if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve going to want to anxiously research everything you can find about the explosion after you finish this novel because the historical context is just so interesting.
I received this book as my Book of the Month choice for April and I’m glad that this was the selection I made. For a book slimmer than I’d expected, there was so much detail and intrigue packed into the pages. I think the size was perfect because while it never skimmed over important details or character traits, the plot never dragged either. And the chapter headers, which slowly count down to the Hindenburg’s inevitable explosive fate, are completely ominous.
The characters were hard for me to like and enjoy, at first. It seemed like everyone was either cranky or trying to stab someone in the back (literally or figuratively, depending on the character) but I like how it was a slower process for me to piece together their pasts and motivations. Some, like the American, remained mostly a dangerous mystery. Some, like Emilie, I grew to love. And some, like cabin boy Werner, I really rooted for. Everyone knows what it is like to start out at a job where you need to do everyone else’s job and get none of the credit. But he’s so adventurous, a hard worker, and, okay, he was kind of adorable to read about.
Just as some of the characters were purposefully spreading rumors about each other to make them seem suspicious, there were several characters who were shady enough, and details that just didn’t add up, that I wasn’t really certain of what would happen until the end. I love that I wasn’t able to predict the ending, even though obviously with all of the historical detail to this some events needed to remain the same.
This book is a great blend of fact with fiction. I’m the kind of person who always reads the author’s notes at the end of a book and I’m so glad that I did that, here. Tiny details that I never would have guessed were real, characters that actually existed, and tragedy that truly struck–that’s the kind of thing that keeps you interested in the events. I’m invested in this story, in these personalities that were created to fictionalize and somehow come up with a meaning behind a great tragedy. And I loved it.