The award-winning, national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard sends an unlikely trio on an exhilarating adventure high above the American Midwest of the 1920s in a spirited, “entertaining surprise” (Publishers Weekly) of a novel in league with Water for Elephants and The Aviator’s Wife.
They are barnstormers…the daredevil fliers whose airborne acrobatics are a thrilling spectacle crisscrossing the Heartland skies. Rising above each of their circumstances in their own “flying circus” are Cora Rose Haviland, a privileged young woman left penniless when her father’s fortune is lost; Charles “Gil” Gilchrist, a World War I pilot whose traumatic past fuels his death-defying stunts; and eighteen-year-old Henry Schuler, the son of a German immigrant farmer, on the run from shocking accusations. Each holds secrets that could destroy their makeshift family. And, on their adrenaline-charged journey of self-discovery, one of them must pay the price.
With the poignant and powerful storytelling voice that made Whistling Past the Graveyard “a classic, a book people want to pass along for generations to come” (Feathered Quill Book Reviews), Susan Crandall artfully weaves the stories of three unforgettable characters, each searching for salvation that waits just beyond the horizon.
If the only flying circus you know is Monty Python's, then Crandall's nostalgic recreation of the heyday of the barnstorming stunt pilots who crisscrossed the U.S. in the 1920s will come as an entertaining surprise. Gil Gilroy, a former WWI flyer, Cora Haviland, a penniless heiress, and Henry Schuler, a teenage orphan fleeing a crime back in his native Indiana, crash into one another quite literally at a rural crossroads and eventually transform themselves into an act, traveling from town to town, with Gus doing stunts in his Curtiss Jenny biplane, Cora doing stunts on her motorcycle, and Henry acting as their mechanic. The only thing they have in common is a past they are all trying to escape. Things go along fine until Henry sees Gus and Cora kissing and is blindsided with jealousy. The three of them up the ante and join an actual flying show of aero-acrobats, in which Cora becomes a wing-walker, constantly trying to devise more and more dangerous stunts to attract larger crowds to the show. Cora eventually graduates to air racer, but the combined secrets from their past threaten to destroy their future together. All too often, the drama in the skies is overshadowed by the melodrama on the ground. Despite this, Gil, Cora, and Henry make for a sturdy romantic trio, and this old-fashioned novel plays like a refreshed mash-up of William Faulkner's Pylon and the 1970s Robert Redford vehicle The Great Waldo Pepper.
GREAT STORY. Good for YA and adults!!
I really liked this book. I remember seeing old newsreels of wing walkers and old planes doing tricks. I remember even reading a book where the mother took the kids out to take a plane ride from one of the barnstormers. But I never really knew of its popularity and that there was competition. So yet another fiction book I've learned from. Meanwhile reading about three young people and their secrets and their ups and downs.
While Cora and Gil's character seemed more like a mystery to me, I think it was written that way on purpose. I mean it was Henry who was doing most of the narrating, so how could he really know anything until they told him?
I think this was a great story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This was the first book I've read of Susan Crandall and I look forward to more. I tried to win the "Whistling Through the Graveyard" but it didn't happen. Darn!! Now, I want to read it even more.
Thanks Gallery Books and Net Galley for providing me with this free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading.
The Flying Circus
Interesting characters that you root for. Great drama. Page turner.