One of Summer’s Most Anticipated Reads, according to Goodreads, SheReads, and Bookish
“I think Beatriz Williams is writing the best historical fiction out there. It’s lush with period detail but feels immediate.”—Elin Hilderbrand
The beloved author returns with a remarkable novel of both raw suspense and lyric beauty— the story of a lost pilot and a wartime photographer that will leave its mark on your soul.
In 1947, photographer and war correspondent Janey Everett arrives at a remote surfing village on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to research a planned biography of forgotten aviation pioneer Sam Mallory, who joined the loyalist forces in the Spanish Civil War and never returned. Obsessed with Sam’s fate, Janey has tracked down Irene Lindquist, the owner of a local island-hopping airline, whom she believes might actually be the legendary Irene Foster, Mallory’s onetime student and flying partner. Foster’s disappearance during a round-the-world flight in 1937 remains one of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries.
At first, the flinty Mrs. Lindquist denies any connection to Foster. But Janey informs her that the wreck of Sam Mallory’s airplane has recently been discovered in a Spanish desert, and piece by piece, the details of Foster’s extraordinary life emerge: from the beginnings of her flying career in Southern California, to her complicated, passionate relationship with Mallory, to the collapse of her marriage to her aggressive career manager, the publishing scion George Morrow.
As Irene spins her tale to its searing conclusion, Janey’s past gathers its own power. The duel between the two women takes a heartstopping turn. To whom does Mallory rightfully belong? Can we ever come to terms with the loss of those we love, and the lives we might have lived?
Williams (The Golden Hour) imagines the adventures of a world-famous aviator, who disappears in 1937 during a solo, around-the-world flight, in this engaging tale of courage, intrigue, and adventure. Aspiring pilot Irene Foster, 20, meets Sam Mallory on a California beach in 1928. Sam is a seasoned stunt pilot, war hero, and aerial derby racer. After teaching Irene, the two become flying partners and will later gain fame for their flight to Australia from \n, which is interrupted when they are marooned on a remote Pacific island. While waiting to be rescued, Sam reflects on their mutual desire and his troubled marriage. After their rescue, Irene marries her talent manager, who makes her a star in her own right, until she disappears. The novel's dual timeline shifts to 28-year-old photojournalist Janey Everett, who in 1947 is researching a biography on Sam Mallory, who was presumed killed during the Spanish Civil War. Janey travels to Hawaii, believing Irene is living there in obscurity as Irene Lindquist, and hopes Irene will fill in some details about Sam. Initially, Irene refuses to talk about her past, but gradually Irene tells her story. Williams builds irresistible tension with the alternating timelines as the fate of Irene and Sam unfolds with shrewd twists and turns that build to an unexpected jolt. Williams's fans will devour this meaty tale. \n
Reasons this book is worth your time to check it out from your local library:
-Two very strong, inspirational female protagonists from two different generations, who are dedicated to their calling, their work passion - one a photographer and one a pioneering aviator
-Accurate historical aviation details (checked them with my air traffic controller husband, who is knowledgeable).
-Williams is a very gifted writer.
-The author has an endearing way of including the reader in the story, by addressing some comments to us.
-Easy to keep up with changes of time and location, because she delineates them by chapters. Easy to read.
-Delicious suspenseful twists and turns, which I will not divulge
Reason to not spend your money on it: In this time of not only the Covid-19 virus but also the most divisive election in US history, not to mention violent unrest, people need to be able to escape via books and movies. But the author just couldn't resist bringing politics into it, via the Leftist Republic. It was disappointing, but I should have known better than to read a book published in 2020. Most authors just can't seem to resist pushing their political beliefs down our throats. In this case, that even meant a character who praised the kind of government that is oppressing innocent and vulnerable people, as I write this. Lesson learned.
Her Last Flight
Great story ..improbable human twists. No spoilers please.
Amazed. Dazzled. Exhausted from this emotional book. Just like everything she writes. Beatriz truly is gifted beyond measure. And although I am never surprised by her wonderful stories I am always in awe when I come the end. Eager to start another one of her devine treasures.