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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Flight of Dreams

ISBN: 9780385540032

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 2/16/2016

Format: e-book

My Rating: 4 Stars

With everyone onboard harboring dark secrets and at least one person determined to make sure the airship doesn't make the return trip, Flight of Dreams gives an utterly suspenseful, heart-wrenching explanation for one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century.

On the evening of May 3, 1937, Emilie Imhof boards the Hindenburg. As the only female crewmember, Emilie has access to the entire airship, from the lavish dining rooms and passenger suites to the gritty engine cars and control room. She hears everything, but with rumors circulating about bomb threats, Emilie's focus is on maintaining a professional air . . . and keeping her own plans under wraps.

What Emilie can't see is that everyone—from the dynamic vaudeville acrobat to the high-standing German officer—seems to be hiding something.

Giving free rein to countless theories of sabotage, charade, and mishap, Flight of Dreams takes us on the thrilling three-day transatlantic flight through the alternating perspectives of Emilie; Max, the ship's navigator who is sweet on her; Gertrud, a bold female journalist who's been blacklisted in her native Germany; Werner, a thirteen-year-old cabin boy with a bad habit of sneaking up on people; and a brash American who's never without a drink in his hand. Everyone knows more than they initially let on, and as the novel moves inexorably toward its tragic climax, the question of which of the passengers will survive the trip infuses every scene with a deliciously unbearable tension.

With enthralling atmospheric details that immediately transport and spellbinding plotting that would make Agatha Christie proud, Flight of Dreams will keep you guessing till the last page. And, as The New York Times Book Review said of her last novel, "This book is more meticulously choreographed than a chorus line. It all pays off."

My Review

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).


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.

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About the Author

The Cliff Notes Version:

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She’s the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (Doubleday, 2014) and the upcoming FLIGHT OF DREAMS (February, 2016).

She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus) and a black lab who is, thankfully, a girl. Read More

The final journey of the Hindenburg is brilliantly re-created in Ariel Lawhon's novel, Flight of Dreams. Meet the ship's mysterious passengers and discover their dark secrets, as they soar amidst the clouds, never suspecting that they are days away from becoming an indelible part of history







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