A USA Today Bestseller
Inspired by fascinating, true, yet little-known events during World War II, The Long Flight Home is a testament to the power of courage in our darkest hours—a moving, masterfully written story of love and sacrifice.
It is September 1940—a year into the war—and as German bombs fall on Britain, fears grow of an impending invasion. Enemy fighter planes blacken the sky around the Epping Forest home of Susan Shepherd and her grandfather, Bertie. After losing her parents to influenza as a child, Susan found comfort in raising homing pigeons with Bertie. All her birds are extraordinary to Susan—loyal, intelligent, beautiful—but none more so than Duchess. Hatched from an egg that Susan incubated in a bowl under her grandfather’s desk lamp, Duchess shares a special bond with Susan and an unusual curiosity about the human world.
Thousands of miles away in Buxton, Maine, young crop-duster pilot Ollie Evans decides to join Britain’s Royal Air Force. His quest brings him to Epping and the National Pigeon Service, where Susan is involved in a new, covert mission to air-drop hundreds of homing pigeons in German-occupied France. Many will not survive. Those that do will bring home crucial information. Soon a friendship between Ollie and Susan deepens, but when his plane is downed behind enemy lines, both know how remote the chances of reunion must be. Yet Duchess will become an unexpected lifeline, relaying messages between Susan and Ollie as war rages on—and proving, at last, that hope is never truly lost.
“Hlad adeptly drives home the devastating civilian cost of the war.”
Hlad's debut snares readers with its fresh angle on the blitz of WWII, focusing on the homing pigeons used by the British, and the people who trained and cared for them. It's autumn of 1940, and the carpet bombings of London have begun. Susan Shepard and her grandfather Bertie raise pigeons on a farm in Epping, outside of London and near the North Weald Airfield, and they rush to their shelter each time the Luftwaffe passes over. Meanwhile, Ollie Evans, an American crop-duster pilot living in Buxton, Maine, has decided to try to join the Allied effort as a Royal Air Force flier. Soon, Ollie meets Susan and the birds she has trained, but before they can explore their feelings for one another, Ollie becomes caught up in the fighting while Susan becomes involved in Source Columba, the real-life intelligence operation that featured the air-drop of hundreds of homing pigeons in occupied France. Descriptions of the horrors of war and the excitement of battle are engaging, and the unusual element of the carrier pigeons lends an intriguing twist. This story will speak not only to romance readers and WWII buffs but also to animal advocates and anyone who enjoys discovering quirky details that are hidden in history.
The long flight home
Excellent read. Well researched. Heartfelt story about pigeons, Ollie and Susan. The author delved deeply into the emotions of the characters. Has an interesting twist towards the end.
Heart wrenching and beautiful.
I can’t remember a book of fiction that touched my heart more than this book.
A Long flight home
I absolutely loved this story. I fell in love with the Pigeons, especially of course, Duchess. The pigeons abilities amazed me and whether fact or fiction, I was enchanted by this story. Reading about the war with its pain and suffering was difficult and I can’t imagine the unbearable suffering Europe had to live through so reading about it should be the least of my concerns, but if I could make everyone read this book, would it make a difference in the way countries would solve problems without the HORRORS this book barely touched on, compared to reality?? There have been so many books, movies, Documentaries written over the last century however, WAR has continued to destroy people and nations. Next info is a spoiler so do not read beyond this point!!
The fact that it took a long time to get to a happy ending, I am happy that it did!!