Publication Date: 2/16/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Stunning cover.
Ariel Lawhon magically makes the Hindenburg passengers come alive in FLIGHT OF DREAMS--- An airship, a zeppelin-- a flight named “uneventful.” Ariel cleverly creates a fictional theory, her short term love affair with this spectacular moment in history. Sit back and enjoy the ride, Lawhon style—an infusion of fact and fiction, and characters to be remembered, not forgotten.
A memorable and “truly eventful” spellbinding journey as readers re-live the time through the passengers, and what may have happened on the Hindenburg---one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century.
Ninety-seven people traveling on this floating luxury hotel for three days over the Atlantic Ocean. Thirty-six people lost their lives when the Hindenburg exploded over Lakehurst, New Jersey.
The Hindenburg disaster--Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey, US.
The spark leading to an explosion which burned in only thirty-four seconds. Even though yet today it is still a mystery, the author chose the catalyst to be human. She gives each a voice. A plot of revenge. What secrets were they hiding?
Each character has a chapter, alternating, we meet the stewardess, the journalist, the navigator, the American, and the cabin boy; from day one -day four. (Three and a half days in midair).
As the author references. These men and women were not famous and no biographies were written. She even keeps the fate of the characters in her book, the consistent with the factual in her blending of the fictional tale. The historical fiction tells the story of the lives of the passengers—the people. What could have happened.
After more than 30 years of passenger travel on commercial zeppelins — in which tens of thousands of passengers flew over a million miles, on more than 2,000 flights, without a single injury — the era of the passenger airship came to anend in a few fiery minutes.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.” --C.S Lewis, The Four Loves
Hindenburg’s wealthy passengers could travel from Europe to North and South America in half the time of the fastest ocean liner, and they traveled in luxurious interiors that would never again be matched in the air; they enjoyed meals in an elegant dining room, listened to an aluminum piano in a modern lounge, slept in comfortable cabins, and could even have a cigarette or cigar in the ship’s smoking room.
"If you're going to call bullshit on historical events, you'd best have a good theory to offer as an alternative."-- Ariel Lawhon
Based on a true story, the author spins an intriguing tale, using the same passenger list. She uses a plot of revenge against one of the crew members. (from WWI regarding airship London-killing an American passenger’s brother).
(Max/Emily) Two crew members: "The Stewardess" Emilie Imhoff, (first German stewardess hired for an airship), a lovely young widow who's beginning to return the affections of "The Navigator," Max Zabel. (ship navigator)
"The Journalist" Gertrud Adelt, (blacklisted) traveling with her older husband (Leonard). Her press card has recently been revoked by the Nazis, and she's missing her baby son. Also an acrobatic entertainer named Joseph Späh.
Gertrud hears rumors of a bomb threat, as well as a suspicious character, "The American." Lastly, the fourteen-year old "Cabin Boy," Werner Franz, taking care of a mysterious unclaimed dog kept in a crate in the cargo hold. Werner is falling for a passenger’s daughter.
Who will bring down the Hindenburg? And how?
No one should have survived, yet they were here, wandering-- like scattered sheep after a storm from passengers, crew members, ground crew, reporters, and spectators. Horrified, there are doctors, nurses, people everywhere. Passengers bound by tragedy. A last look at the Hindenburg—the wreckage. Did anyone really care about the people who traveled on board; their quarrels, plans, passions, memories, or loss? They were interested in technicalities. Protocol. Sabotage. A motive. Inconclusive.
As with any plane or train excursion, there is always intrigue, entertainment, romance, wit and suspense, passion, mystery, secrets, and sometimes murder. However, when you are referring to a disastrous historic crash (with a fictional revenge plot) the intensity is ten-fold.
Lawhon covers all the vivid details, from the luxury, the service, food, the passengers and crew, as the intensity mounts –transporting you to an earlier time, and slowly an unveiling, to the final countdown of the ill-fated flight and devastating crash.
Well-researched, rich in character and history; readers will be flying after reading, to Google, and YouTube to watch videos and further review and research more of this tragic historic event, often forgotten—marking the end of an era for airships.