“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.”
My Thoughts: The best historical fiction novels are a perfect blend of fact and fiction. The setting becomes more real than from any textbook and everything from the descriptions of daily life down to the sentence structure and slang used in dialogue brings the chosen historical period back to life. This is something that is very difficult to accomplish, but when it happens, the novel becomes magic. It is something Ariel Lawhon was able to accomplish with her first novel and now again with her latest.
The Hindenburg tragedy is one of those unsolved mysteries which will always intrigue the public. Its filmed demise is spectacular in its fiery swiftness plus there are so many unresolved questions behind the tragedy, both of which are key to capturing the public’s ongoing interest. What makes Flight of Dreams so fantastic is that Ms. Lawhon establishes an entertaining and yet plausible story behind the tragedy. She does this while utilizing detailed research that makes you feel as if you too are on-board the Hindenburg during its last flight. You get to know the passengers and the crew attending to their every whim. You feel a depth of emotion for them all, made all the more poignant for the fate that awaits them. Her imagining of the final flight is creative, well-plotted, carefully crafted, and highly engaging.
Because Ms. Lawhon is so good at her craft and Flight of Dreams is such a fascinating story, you will automatically want to learn more about these very real people. As tempting as that is, take it from me that to do so is a big mistake. The characters lose something when you see how they really look. At the same time, the story becomes less magical when the fictional elements of the story become blaringly obvious. Because I cared so much for those on the ship, I wanted Ms. Lawhon’s story to be real, and the truth only shatters the illusion. Don’t get me wrong. It is still fascinating to look at the very real victims of the tragedy. It just isn’t the same as what happens on Flight of Dreams.
The characters and their stories harken back to a time where people are just beginning to catch a glimpse of the brutal future on the horizon. Because that future is still only a possibility, there is an innocence to the story that belies the undercurrent of political danger. Moreover, all of the characters are so real and sympathetic that it becomes almost impossible to reconcile the idea of these airmen as Nazi soldiers, even though that is exactly who they are.
Ms. Lawhon’s imaginative speculation on the Hindenburg’s last flight will make you laugh, cry and everything inbetween. It will make you wish that we still used the majestic zeppelins for air travel, albeit without the highly flammable gas keeping it aloft. It makes you want Ms. Lawhon’s story to be true with its story of love, intrigue, and adventure. In truth, Flight of Dreams is a stunning novel of historical fiction that everyone should read.