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The Flying Circus

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From the bestselling and award-winning author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes an adventure tale about two daredevils and a farm boy who embark on the journey of a lifetime across America’s heartland in the Roaring Twenties.

Set in the rapidly changing world of 1920s America, this is a story of three people from very different backgrounds: Henry “Schuler” Jefferson, son of German immigrants from Midwestern farm country; Cora Rose Haviland, a young woman of privilege whose family has lost their fortune; and Charles “Gil” Gilchrist, an emotionally damaged WWI veteran pilot. Set adrift by life-altering circumstances, they find themselves bound together by need and torn apart by blind obsessions and conflicting goals. Each one holds a secret that, if exposed, would destroy their friendship. But their journey of adventure and self-discovery has a price—and one of them won’t be able to survive it.

As they crisscross the heartland, exploring the rapidly expanding role of aviation from barnstorming to bootlegging, from a flying circus to the dangerous sport of air racing, the three companions form a makeshift family. It’s a one-of-a-kind family, with members as adventurous as they are vulnerable, and as fascinating as they are flawed. But whatever adventure—worldly or private—they find themselves on, they’re guaranteed to be a family you won’t forget.

357 pages, Hardcover

First published July 7, 2015

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About the author

Susan Crandall

30 books696 followers
Alas, the rumor is true, Susan was a dental hygienist in her previous career. However, she "retired" from that profession many years ago and has been a full-time author ever since--thanks to all of you fabulous readers.

Susan grew up in a small Indiana town, married a guy from that town, and then moved to Chicago for a while. She is pleased to say that she has been back in her hometown for many years and plans to stay.

She's received a RITA, two National Reader's Choice Awards and a SIBA Award for Fiction. Her books include an Indie Next Pick, Okra Picks, a Target Book Club pick, and are popular with book clubs.

THE MYTH OF PERPETUAL SUMMER will be released June 19, 2018.

Join her newsletter for new release announcements. http://susancrandall.net/newsletter/

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5 stars
359 (19%)
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754 (41%)
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574 (31%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 359 reviews
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,286 reviews2,204 followers
July 13, 2015

The paths of three young people cross . Each of them holds a secret and are running from something , in this story which takes place in the 1920's and depicts the barnstorming that was popular during this time where flyers did stunts with their planes as they drew people in to pay for a ride .

It was a quick and easy read but yet flirts with some big events and issues. WWI - from Gil's perspective trying to come to terms with the war after he's returned home. He's an aviator, flying from town to town performing stunts , giving rides and making enough money to pay for the plane and to get by . Henry has had a life of loss - he's the only one in his family left on earth and now he's running from the farm in Indiana where he was taken in as a boy . If he stays , he'll be charged with murder. Cora, a young girl from well to do family that has lost their wealth is on the run as well , trying not to be married off to save her mother financially. She 's an admirable young woman trying to be her own person but seems frivolous and reckless in her pursuit of adventure at times . These three connect and put on shows until their secrets are divulged and circumstances change that impact the life of their flying circus .

You don't really see the "roaring twenties " as I would have expected but small towns and farms and the people wanting to get up in those planes . From a historical perspective, it was an interesting look at barnstorming which I knew little about . It definitely was not a life changer. It was somewhat predictable but an enjoyable story with likable characters , and a good way to spend a quiet weekend.

Thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and NetGalley .
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,340 followers
July 8, 2015
I may not be the best reader to judge The Flying Circus because I don't particularly like what I think of as this odd subgenre of circus literature. No -- full disclosure -- I didn't like Water for Elephants. And I am somewhat fussy about historical fiction -- I like to learn something about the historical context and don't like sugar coated sentimentality. But I was attracted to The Flying Circus because of the time period it takes place in and the description of the story. And it was "okay", but it didn't turn me around on circus literature. The story is narrated in the third person but told from the perspective of Henry who has had a very unlucky childhood and is now harbouring a secret he keeps while on the run from the law. He meets up with WWI vet Gil -- who has his own dark secrets -- and Cora -- who is trying to escape her mother's hope that marriage to a wealthy bachelor will fix the family's financial troubles. Together, using Gil's ramshackle of a plane and eventually meeting up with a few other daredevils, the threesome become part of a traveling flying circus. And the story revolves around the secrets to be uncovered, the complex triangle of feelings formed between Henry, Gil and Cora, and the adventures of the traveling circus. Which all makes for a rollicking story -- and I did develop a soft spot for sweet Henry -- but I found it all a bit superficial and predictable, and light on the historical context. For those who appreciate circus literature more than me, this may be a good read. For me, it was ok but I was glad to be done so that I can move on to another book -- probably some non fiction or something contemporary. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for Stephanie Anze.
657 reviews112 followers
April 10, 2017
Henry, the son of German immigrants, is just a boy when he is orphaned. Taken in by a kind-hearted farmer, Henry becomes a farmhand on the Dahlgreen property. That is until a harsh circumstance arises that forces him to flee. Cora is a young and feisty woman whose family was once part of the elite until it fell from grace. Seeking a fresh start, she mounts her motorcycle and runs. Gil is a WWI veteran pilot that travels the country putting on shows to sustain himself. A fateful meeting on a dirt road will bring these three individuals together and redefine family ties.

Having read ´Whistling Past the Graveyard´ last year, I became interested in another work by Crandall and was not dissapointed. Set in the roaring twenties of America, the narrative follows Henry, Cora and Gil as each of them are fleeing from something. It all starts with a race between a byplane and a motorcycle. There was a strong sense of adventure and danger as Crandall describes the stunts of the flying circus (wing-walking, acrobatic turns and such). Aviation was a prominent part of the story but not in a overwhelming manner. The danger of the stunts matches the danger of the consequences if the secrets of the protagonists come to light. Crandall writes with wit and heart. Each of the main protagonist hides a painful past behind a tough facade. The novel covers family, the one we are born into and the one(s) we create. Entertaining and heartwarming, I truly enjoyed reading this novel.
Profile Image for Bandit.
4,517 reviews456 followers
June 16, 2015
I'm not a huge an of flying, but literally can't resist a book about a circus. Even an untraditional circus of a bygone age. And yes, I was reluctant to read a novel by an author who work primarily features embracing couples on the covers. Fortunately, while romance is a heavy component of the book, it never overwhelms the heart of the story, which is a high flying adventure across America in 1920s from coast to coast by sky and by land, by choice and by circumstance. The main trio of protagonists all have a past they are trying to get away from with various degrees of success, they are all easy to care about, which I find always makes for a more compelling reading experience. Toward the end the story gets a tad overly sentimental, but never really in a tedious way, mostly just sweet and charming. And the writing is consistently good. The main thing roaring in Crandall's 20s are the plane engines, but it is nevertheless a good perspective into an important historical time, particularly in reference to ramifications of WWI. The magnificent daredevilry described in the book can never be replicated now with the novelty aspect of flying long gone and too many safety regulations in place, but this book takes the readers back to the time where dreams and courage can take one as high as they wished to go. Really enjoyable read. Recommended.
Profile Image for Karen R.
840 reviews496 followers
September 19, 2015
I really enjoyed this story that begins when 3 characters meet by a happenstance involving a motorcycle racing with a biplane. Thhus starts an amazing journey. Gil, Henry and Cora begin a stunt-flying adventure in the post-WW1 heyday of the flying circus. Although fiction, I learned a lot about barnstorming which was presented in an entertaining way. The aerobatic maneuvers were perilous. These tricks were so dangerous, they played a role in history to bring about aviation’s safety regulations.

Cora is my favorite character of the three. She is an energetic and ambitious girl who is ahead of her time, a skilled daredevil all about pushing the limits of her gender, speed and death-defying feats trying to earn respect in the world of aviation. Needless to say, both men fall for Cora. Can they maintain a friendship while competing for Cora’s attention? This is a good read that left me with an appreciation for the early risk-takers of aviation.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Renata.
398 reviews89 followers
July 18, 2021
Listened to this on audible. I’m feeling generous this morning, so three stars it is! Nothing special about it at all.
Profile Image for Michelle.
2,101 reviews1,254 followers
July 19, 2015
ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Set in the 1920s, Susan Crandall has weaved and created a vibrant compelling tale of love, life, and loss in The Flying Circus. Ms. Crandall has delicately weaved an intricate layers of romance, suspense, and adventure in this rich tale that will have steal your hearts with bounds and leaps in this aerial acrobats. With a lively cast of characters that were enigmatic and endearing, Ms. Crandall has captured her readers' attentions with her beautiful and spell-binding writing. She has masterfully crafted a story that unfolds secrets, suspense, romance, and adventure all into one entertaining read that was thought-provoking and rich in depths of love, loss, life and redemption. So if you are looking for a book that will take your vivid imagination to soar new heights, then I would suggest you give The Flying Circus a try!! Be prepared to get spellbinded in this crazy and complex adventure of thrills, loss, love and friendship !!!!

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Review can also be found on Four Chicks Flipping Pages: http://fourchicksflippingpages.weebly...
Profile Image for KOMET.
1,089 reviews128 followers
April 29, 2017
"THE FLYING CIRCUS" is a well-crafted, colorful and engaging novel that faithfully recaptures the spirit of the barnstorming era in America during the early 1920s. Through the lives of 3 compelling characters --- Henry Schuler, an 18 year old from Indiana with considerable mechanical skills who has had a traumatic family life; Charles Gilchrist ("Gil") a veteran First World War combat pilot now eking out a living as a barnstorming pilot with his own Curtiss 'Jenny' JN-4 U.S. Army surplus biplane; and Cora Haviland, a young woman from an affluent background whose family had fallen upon hard times who yearns to have a more adventurous life which barnstorming comes to offer her --- the reader is given entree into 3 dissimilar lives that come to be bound together in ways large and small.

This is a novel that will tug at one's heartstrings and give any reader a keen appreciation for what was a fascinating era in aviation history. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Profile Image for Teri.
648 reviews70 followers
July 30, 2015
Once again, I am gushing over the latest Susan Crandall book. Like Whistling Past the Graveyard, Crandall tells a story of unlikely characters that come together through unlikely events to build an unlikely family bond. The Flying Circus finds Henry, Cora, and Gil, all running from their past and a broken family life. It is 1920s in America, a time when hucksters go from town to town making a living by entertaining the crowds. Henry is a mechanic, Gil a pilot, and Cora is a daring stunt woman on a motorcycle. They reluctantly form a barnstorming "flying circus" in order to make ends meet and survive another day. In a matter of a few months, they become a strong team and a close family. But they each hold a secret that rocked their past and if exposed, threaten to tear apart the family they have created. This book is a reminder that friends are often the family you pick and also that you really can never run from the past. At some point, it will catch up to you.

I really enjoyed this book and the colorful characters that Crandall paints. The middle of the book started to wane a bit for me, but it was needed story to help the reader understand the true spirit of each of the characters. For those that like a tidy ending, this has one. It will certainly make you go "Awww" at the end.
Profile Image for Valerie Anne.
885 reviews13 followers
January 1, 2016
A fun and spunky, high-flying, daredevil adventure! Things I loved: the time period, the airplanes and stunt flying, Cora and her motorcycle, Mercury the sausage-stealing, goggle-wearing terrier. Things that left me feeling ho-hum: not enough detail to make me really sink into the history and place, an irrelevant epilogue, and the fact that the narration only came from Henry's POV.

Henry is perhaps the least interesting character in this book, yet the story is told entirely from his perspective, which makes the narration feel a little thin in places, a bit lacking. I would have loved to see more from Cora's perspective and even Gil's.

Also, this book seemed to labor under an identity crisis. At times it was historical fiction about a woman bucking tradition and stunt flyers making history with little bit of a love story mixed in there. Other times it slipped into a very weak murder mystery. And I think the story suffered because of this. Thankfully, there were enough moments of humor, romance, and delightful circus hi-jinks to hold my interest to the end...minus that dreadful epilogue.
Profile Image for Sharon Huether.
1,477 reviews10 followers
July 5, 2015
I won this book from Goodreads- First Reads. Thank Goodreads. A wonderful story of the era of Barnstorming in the 1920's when they would do trick flying, with ladies walking on the airplane wings. Cora, Gil and Henry were a part of that group. They all had secret baggage they brought along in their air-adventures. As they got to know each other the secrets were revealed. The mysteries solved. In the beginning the story was slow and it got much better at the end of the book.
Profile Image for Ted Hinkle.
371 reviews1 follower
July 7, 2015
The Flying Circus was an entertaining historical fiction novel set primarily in rural central Indiana, particularly enjoyable for me. I enjoyed the development of the three main characters in a flowing quick page turning manner. I recommend Crandall's novel to those with Hoosier ties and a fondness for historical settings.
Profile Image for Barb.
860 reviews
July 7, 2015
I loved Whistling Past the Graveyard, by Ms. Crandall, so I had high hopes for this book and was afraid I'd be disappointed, but I needn't have worried.

Set in 1920s America, this book follows the adventures of Henry, a young man from a German family; Gil, a WWI veteran pilot; and Cora, a young woman whose family has lost its fortune. Traveling together across the country on a barnstorming tour, they build a sort of family, despite the secrets held by each of them.

The characters felt real to me, especially Henry, since most of the story seems to be told from his point of view. He also seems to be the most vulnerable of the three, perhaps due to his stereotypical Midwestern upbringing. I also enjoyed "watching" the world of aviation expand throughout the book, and was amazed at the lengths pilots and other daredevils would go to in order to attract attention.

I will most definitely look forward to the next book by this author, as she is fast becoming one of my favorites in the historical fiction genre.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Shelli Proffitt Howells.
65 reviews108 followers
June 23, 2015
Admit it. We’ve all wanted to run away and join the circus at some point in our lives. What better way to escape for the summer than to join Henry, Cora, and Gil and their flying circus?

The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall delivers on all its promises. The writing is flawless. The well-crafted characters are feisty, enigmatic, and endearing. The story moves along nicely, weaving adventure, mystery, and a little bit of romance. The love triangle (if you can call it that) between the three doesn’t feel forced like many stories. Instead, I felt as ambivalent as Cora. On the one hand, I hoped that Henry would be rewarded for his puppy-love wishes. After all, he’d had so much joy taken from him. But then, I also hoped that Gil would be saved from the demons that haunted him, and I knew that Cora was the only one who could do it.

Whether it’s flying high with the wind in your face with Gil, walking on the wings of the plane with Cora, or sitting in a jail cell with Henry, awaiting his fate, this literary story never loses its sense of adventure. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story.
Profile Image for Lydia.
37 reviews1 follower
March 6, 2015
I was thrilled to get an ARC of Susan Crandall's newest book "The Flying Circus". Her previous novel "Whistling Past the Graveyard" was stunning! Place yourself in the '20s and meet the protaganists: Start with Gil, a retired WWI reconnaissance flyer, now a barnstormer, add to that Cora, a daredevil in her own way from a family who has lost their fortune, then add Henry, an 18 year old boy of German descent who is on the run from the law. There is almost nothing Cora will do to find another means of astonishing a crowd, at the risk of her own life. Gil harbors guarded secrets of his past which, at times, awaken surprisingly powerful emotions. Henry is the innocent who is having to deal with the emotional highs and lows emerging from this union of misfits.. Mix them together and Susan Crandall has created yet another fascinating novel of historical fiction!
Profile Image for Donna.
3,903 reviews21 followers
December 11, 2017
This is historical fiction. I enjoyed the author's writing. She brought a lot of her descriptions full circle. I liked the story too, but this is one of those books where it feels like you are floating on a lazy river...nothing moves too fast. Sometimes this feeling is not what I'm in the mood for, but apparently, today, I was in the mood for it because I enjoyed the journey.

I liked the 3 MC's. Their individual backstories were similar as they were all hiding something. Eventually all the truths come out. I would have liked more detail about the time period, not just the obvious of post-war stuff and prohibition.
Profile Image for Tara Chevrestt.
Author 27 books293 followers
April 8, 2015
The 1920s was not only about bootleggers and flappers; it was a time for barnstormers in their Jennies. Aviation was changing. Curtiss Wright was doing his thing, making better engines, planning for the future: commercial flight. Records were being made and broken.

I wanted to read this novel because of its heroine: Cora Rose Haviland, a socialite turned daredevil wing walker. As far as heroines go, she doesn't disappoint. She rides around on a motorcycle, jumps it through hoops of fire, gives men what for, and all this with a cute little dog in tow. Though fictional, she could be any number of women who really existed, like Mabel Cody, or Blanche Stuart Scott.

The story is really focused on a young man named Henry though, a German forced by a prejudiced society to deny his heritage. It's just after The Great War and emotions are still running high. Though in third person POV, it follows solely Henry. I disliked this method of narrative. I had expected that the story would follow all three of them equally, perhaps alternating POVs, giving equal page time.

Henry is on the run from the law for reasons not revealed to us fully until the end, so I will say no more about that. He's an insightful young man though who is an aircraft mechanic and pilot (after he meets Gil). I liked him, but for a main character, he's very subdued, rather "overcome" by the other two characters.

Gil is a former WWI pilot who flew reconnaissance. He has no interest in doing a flying circus and both Henry and Cora rather force the whole thing on him. In my opinion, he's the most sympathetic character. Cora, while I loved her, got on my nerves at times. She goes from brave to stupid rather quickly. I wish the novel had had alternating POVs so that perhaps we could have gotten in her head and found out what exactly was motivating her to be this way. Her brief bits of explanation to Henry, I simply found unsatisfactory.

These three travel town to town, promoting, flying, coming up with stunts--and in Henry's case, safety features--drinking, saving lives, being hit by tornadoes, all kinds of things. And unavoidably, there is a love triangle, though I don't feel there's any real romance in this. The triangle is brief and feelings are never fully reciprocated at the same time, not until the very end. Cora seems to "love" the one who's there or more exciting at the moment. I don't feel this should be in the romance category (which is where Amazon Vine placed it).

Full review, final thoughts, favorite quote can all be found here: http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2015/...
Profile Image for Lori L (She Treads Softly) .
2,266 reviews87 followers
July 9, 2015
The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall is a highly recommended novel set in the roaring twenties about three people and a dog trying to escape their past while making their way in the present.

Henry (Schuler) Jefferson is trying to escape from the law for murder. The son of German immigrants in the Midwest, he has endured taunts, false accusations, and prejudice because of his German heritage. After his whole family died, a neighboring farmer took him in. The only problem was the farmer's wife and daughters weren't as accepting. Now something horrible has happened (we won't know the story until the end) and he is on the run, heading to Chicago.

Henry literally runs into Cora Rose Haviland and Gil (Charles) Gilchrist. Cora is on a motorcycle racing Gil, a former Army reconnaissance pilot who is flying a Jenny biplane. When Cora crashes and Gil lands, the three meet and eventually team up together. Currently Gil, a moody loner, has been barnstorming, landing near towns and then offering rides for $5. Henry, a mechanic by nature, sees that he can help Gil, and maybe get a ride placing him closer to Chicago. Cora, in stark contrast, is from a wealthy family who has lost their fortune. Her mother is trying to marry her off to a wealthy man so she can return to her place in society. Cora wants nothing to do with this plan.

The three, along with a little stray dog Cora names Mercury and teaches to do tricks, team up and form Mercury's Daredevils. While Gil does death defying stunts in the biplane, Cora and Mercury perform stunts on the motorcycle. Henry acts as the mechanic, the announcer, and the money collector. While their choice to team up together is working, it is constantly threatened by their conflicting goals and closely kept secrets. All three are trying to escape from something and none of them have told the others their full story. It doesn't help their alliance when Henry, who is attracted to Cora, sees Cora flirting with Gil.

The writing is excellent and the subject matter unique. Crandall keeps you reading by hinting at and not revealing the secrets each character is trying to hide until very near the end. I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying, although I felt better about it once I read the epilogue. Cora's blind enthusiasm for new stunts (and getting her way) in stark contrast to Gil's morose, moody drinking may jangle a few nerves, but all in all this is a very engaging story with memorable characters and a compelling plot. It was really a perfect summer novel for sheer escapism.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Gallery Books for review purposes.

Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
993 reviews2,780 followers
November 27, 2015
I love reading books about the 1920's in the United States, but most of those revolve around bootleggers, flappers and the end of WW1.

This adventure is about Gil, a WW1 veteran who had flown reconnaissance and was suffering from PTSD. . He purchased a surplus plane and was traveling the country barnstorming and offering rides to those who wanted a taste of the still new thrill of aviation.

Gil is joined shortly into the book by Cora, a very young woman from a socialite family who has no intention of marrying for social status and money. She is a rebel at heart who loved and admired her brother who was killed in the war. She has been secretly riding his motorcycle and practicing stunts in the field surrounding her uncles property.

Henry, a young man on the run from a crime that he didn't commit actually sees Gil and Cora racing together through the fields. When Cora crashes her motorcycle, Henry goes to her aid. Gil lands his plane and the three meet. They form a loose family with Cora and Gil the stronger characters and Henry pretty much portrayed as the gentle, kind, willing to endure buffer between the two.

They travel the country performing tricks with the plane and motorcycle which eventually evolves into wing walking and other stunts that Cora performs on the wings of the airplane. Henry is a mechanic and also thinks of great ways to promote the show.

While I think this is an enjoyable read I would have preferred more deeply evolved characters. We never really know much about what they are thinking or feeling. Perhaps I would have enjoyed this story told from each of their perspectives.

I think this would be a good summer read!
616 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2015
2015 354 pages

growing in in a very small town, the August county fairs were a big deal. It had a nightly stage attraction but those airplane "barnbusters" were the biggest deal. I remember watching with my mouth agape in awe as the men in their flying machines maneuvering the sky like they were a feather.

This book starts out in 1923. Three characters, all wounded in some way are woven in dare devil moves in the air and on land. There is love, loss, death, life, as well as a rounded out ending.

Kinda fun. Nicely done Ms Crandall
Profile Image for Amy.
254 reviews34 followers
May 30, 2017
3.5 stars! The first three quarters of this book were extremely good, even despite the coarse language I could've done without. But it lapsed into melodrama at the end, and ultimately left me with a sour, "You're kidding me!" taste in my mouth.
Profile Image for RoseMary Achey.
1,357 reviews
July 30, 2015
A world War I veteran, a young society debutant, and an orphan on the run from the law team up to produce a barnstorming act in the 1920's rural Midwest.

Well researched and likable characters, but lacked the charm of Whistling Past the Graveyard, another of Crandall's novels.
Profile Image for Nora Nelly.
128 reviews20 followers
November 29, 2015
I won this book from Simon & Schuster in a book giveaway. This in no way decided my rating and review of this book.

I got this book back in June and didn't have a chance nor time to read this book until October.

This book is set in the 1920's in the Midwest of America. This book was written in the perspective of Henry Schuler an 18 year old orphan running from the law in Indiana. We have no idea why he's running or what he did. Henry's life changes after seeing a biplane and a motorcycle racing each other, the motorcycle crashes and the driver lands in a lake. Henry comes to the rescue and gets the driver out of the lake and checks for any damage. To his and the reader's surprise the driver turns out to be a girl of about his own age. Cora turns out to be a sassy, independent girl who's yearning for adventure. The biplane lands in the field close to the lake and the pilot turns out to be a war veteran Charles "Gil" Gilchrist who's a barnstormer. He gives rides for a fee in his plane the "Jenny". Henry and Gil help Cora take the ruined motorbike back to her uncle's farm. Turns out, Cora comes from a wealthy family and only lives with her uncle and aunt because her father wasted all the family's money in gambling and died. Her mother is an unpleasant woman bitter over the loss of the family's wealth but not willing to let go of the life she used to have. She invites Henry and Gil over for dinner and they accept. Gil is a serious young man who doesn't talk much but suffers from PTSD from the war. Henry turns out to be great mechanic and convinces Gil to take him along with to the next town he's going to and the adventures start there. Cora tags along in her fixed motorbike and picks up a stray mutt and names him Mercury. Gil suffers from nightmares and drinks when he isn't flying. Henry is still trying to get as far away as he can from the law and Indiana. All 3 of them have secrets to tell, but one of them doesn't make it out alive on their adventures in the air in the world of aviation.

I liked this book a lot. This had a slow start for me, yes it had a little air of mystery from Henry's run from the law. What did he do? Why is he running? Why didn't he just turn himself in? Henry's life is very sad. He decides to change his name from Schuler to Jefferson not only to run from the law but also to avoid the injustice over being a child of German immigrants and during WWI suffering the injustice of having the name Schuler when he was a full-blooded American. We learn that his brother Peter joined the war to get rid of that injustice and also ends up dying. One by one Henry's family members die. First his baby sister, then his mother, then his brother, and lastly his father. Henry becomes an orphan at age of the 13 and a man named Anders Dahlgren picks him up and lets him live with family on the farm. His life there wasn't very pleasant either. He had to live in the barn because Mrs. Dahlgren didn't want him anywhere near her or her 7 daughters. The oldest daughters also hated him. There was only the youngest daughter who liked him. She was the mistreated in the family for having a stutter. I liked Mr. Dahlgren for his compassion for Henry he wanted give him that since of family again but because of his wife wasn't really able to. I so hated Emmaline and she treated Henry, destroyed what little Mr. Dahlgren could give him, made him into a robber when he wasn't, and pretty much made his life hell whenever she was around. Henry was a kind, compassionate guy, who didn't know whether he was guilty over the crime was accused of commiting. I liked him a lot and honestly felt very sorry for him.

Cora got on my nerves sometimes. I got that she wanted adventure but sometimes she just thought of taking risk after risk without thinking of consequences like falling from the sky or getting killed on her motorbike. I also found it slightly annoying that she called Henry "Kid" while she swooned over Gil and the next minute wanted nothing to do with him. I also didn't like that both Henry and Gil fell in love with her. Overall though she was a great role model for girls to stand up for themselves when no one else believed in them.

Gil was... I'm sorry to say pretty pathetic. I get the whole PTSD thing over having lived through the war, but he was pretty much suicidal all throughout the book. I feel like couldn't see the reasons or people he could live for, that he wasn't grateful for being able to fly his "Jenny" and just wallowed in the past, was very sad. He argued with everyone who called him a war hero, and drank every night to forget the way he felt. Henry and Cora both felt it was their responsibilities to watch out for Gil. Gil's life was also sad but I felt like he could have taken a page out of Henry's life and lived the way Henry did in the moment and fought to keep that happiness.

Overall, this book was great I read over half of it in one sitting. But I found the beginning a little slow, and found some grammatical errors. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend this book to anyone who's interested in the history of flying and airplanes with mix of how different people can come together over an airplane.
Profile Image for TerryJane.
290 reviews2 followers
July 18, 2018
This is a gorgeously rendered tale of three thrillseekers in the 1920's who, despite their secrets and brokenness, come together to form not only The Flying Circus, but also, a family bond.
Profile Image for Ebirdy.
487 reviews7 followers
June 14, 2021
This was close to 4 stars. An enjoyable read that takes place in the 1920s, that odd time after WW1 and before the Depression. Full of interesting information on the early days of aviation and "flying circuses". The epilogue was weak I thought. Good escapism reading.
Profile Image for Kimberly Walsh.
220 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2021
Excellent! I truly enjoy her books and loved that this tied in quite a bit of "Indiana"....
Profile Image for Ariana.
468 reviews
September 4, 2018
This has been a bit of a slow start for me. Hopefully it will pick up soon.
Profile Image for Angie.
690 reviews24 followers
November 17, 2018
I really like Crandall's writing. Her story is captivating and entertaining, with interesting characters and a peek into a cool historical era. I felt like the ending rushed a bit after the long, descriptive and detailed earlier part of the book, but still a satisfying read overall.
Profile Image for Daiana Damacus.
68 reviews39 followers
October 7, 2020
This story paints a wonderful picture of a time many people from our generation don't have a good grasp on: the years between the two World Wars. It's set in the early 1920s and introduces readers to a world scarred by WWI, but also pushed forward by it. There are dark elements to this story - murder, depression, maltreatment - and yet the novel is 300 pages of sunshine and hope.

Cora, Gil and Henry - the main characters - are fascinating individuals that come from different walks of life, but connect in search of one common goal: freedom. For Gil, it's a feeling; for Cora, it's a goal; for Henry, it's a fool's wish. Modern readers will definitely be able to connect with them, but that doesn't make them less authentic. On the contrary, it bridges a gap between generations as you realise some of these characters' struggles are exactly the same as those some people face today.

The action is fast paced, but you never feel taken aback by the speed of events, so this is a perfect choice for anyone who likes an eventful tale, but can't commit to a thick book.
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