Published: Doubleday - Random House
Date: February 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Thanks to the Publisher and author.
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.
Before taking up Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon, I knew very little about the Hindenburg disaster, I was just vaguely aware of it. As I read into this work of fiction I became fascinated by it. I even explored an internet site that Ariel mentions at the back of her book, and know I will go back to it. I am not that much interested in non-fiction, but sometimes a work of fiction sparks off a new awareness and quest for more.
The names of the characters are those of the actual travellers on the Hindenburg. As Ariel points out the survivors said not much happened on the trip. However she picks up from there and writes a fascinating and page turning view of what might have been. How the Hindenburg became engulfed in flames is a mystery as yet unsolved. Even back in those times - 1937 - bomb threats were a worry and the crew were aware and cautious.
Ariel Lawhon takes this event and these people and makes it accessible to me - the reader. As the story rotates among a number of characters, slowly I as the reader, build a picture of them. Their hopes, griefs, jealousies, and longings. I witness the crew and staff as they interact with kindness, blackmail, duty, subterfuge and revenge. I come to care for these characters and through them the actual people who travelled that fated time.
This book has been well researched, I learned things about the airships that I did not know, all thanks to this research. What an amazing feat of technology. How amazing to have travelled in this way.
As I said I knew very little about the Hindenburg before I started reading this novel. I had heard of its demise, but that is all. I had assumed there were no survivors. Amazingly there were. Many of the actual real survivors went on to live long lives.
If you like historical fiction, fiction based on real events then this is for you. Or... perhaps you are like me - very vague about this event and time. Yes, most definitely this book is for you.
Pat at Posting For Now has a fabulous review on Flight of Dreams and on it you will be able to link to a live radio recording and video of the disaster. I highly recommend visiting her post.