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The Secrets of Flight

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,961 ratings  ·  311 reviews
This captivating, breakout novel—told in alternating viewpoints—brings readers from the skies of World War II to the present day, where a woman is prepared to tell her secrets at last.

Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her past. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is still haunted by se
Paperback, 344 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,961 ratings  ·  311 reviews

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Diane S ☔
May 16, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 Miriam at 87 has presided over her writing group for years, a group that consists of other elderly would be writers. So when a young, 15 year old Elyse walks in to join the group, they are all surprised. Elyse will be the catalyst for the unveiling of Miriam's former life, a time when she had a different name, a much different career as a member of the woman's flying corps during the war. Secrets, heartaches, much on flying and these amazing women, love lost and disappointments galore.

I liked the octogenarian protagonist, Mrs. Browning, the most--both in the present and in the past when she was an aviator in the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She was such a wonderful character. I also love novels that deal with the WASP. I always learn something new from them. This time I learned about their mascot, Fifinella, a winged female gremlin who was created by Walt Disney.

I disliked the teenage protagonist at first. In fact, I nearly stopped reading because she seemed stereo
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it

THE SECRETS OF FLIGHT is filled with writers, readers, secrets, life’s lessons, and​ laugh-out-loud situations.​

We meet 87-year-old Mrs. Browning also known as Miriam Lichtenstein who has a story that needs to be told and Elyse a 15-year old who helps record her story.

We learn about Mrs Browning's past through flashbacks and the story she has Elyse typing for her.

The two main characters were lovable and two people who would be wonderful to know. I am wondering if the characters were actual peopl
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I listened to the audio version and it was nice. And nice is pretty much my thought about the book. The Secrets of Flight is about Mary Browning, an old woman that retells her life's story to a young girl, Elyse Strickler. And through this do, we learn about her big secret while we also learn more about Elyse and her family and all their problems.

I wish I could have connected more with the characters. I found Mary's story interesting, her Jewish upbringing, her love for flying and the secret she
Tara Chevrestt
Absolutely amazing novel. It made me laugh, cry, nod my head in agreement, and contemplate some of the complicated choices some are presented with in life. What do you choose? The family you were born to or the family you choose? Making your dreams come true or helping someone else obtain theirs? Is denying your religion denying yourself?

I've read many WASP novels and while there was nothing new to me about this part of the story, the Jewish heroine and her conflicts made it interesting. The mod
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it

3.5 stars, but will round up to 4.

This was historical fiction, as an 87 year old woman reflects on her past as a pilot during WWII and her family drama all while dealing with her lonely present. It was also a story of a teenage girl who was helping this woman write her memoir. It felt like two sincere stories that toggled back and forth in time as their friendship deepens and their lives intertwine. I think I liked the story of the teenage girl a little more which made the toggling a little bot
Meg - A Bookish Affair
4.5 stars. "The Secrets of Flight" is the story of two people, Mary and Elyse. Mary is almost 90 and is looking back at her life and trying to come to terms with the secrets she has been hiding. Elyse is 15 and is going through a lot as her world is upended when her family breaks apart. These two characters have very different backgrounds that come together in some really surprising ways in this book. This book is one where I was torn between turning the pages faster and savoring each page for a ...more
Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)
The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler is rich with characters and history and family and life. It addresses the importance of faith in our formation while spotlighting a host of courageous women from the past as well as the present.

The narrative alternates between the perspectives of the two main characters – Mary/Miriam and Elyse. Together, they may make an unlikely pair but a delightful one nonetheless. I would enjoy knowing both of them – as well as their rather eccentric writing club!

As fa
Stephanie Anze
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Mary Browning (a former pilot and author) runs a writing group, whose members are elderly. On one of their sessions, they get a new member, fifteen-year-old Elyse. An aspiring author, Elyse seeks advice and soon Mary herself is on hand to provide it. As both women grow closer together, they form a friendship. It soon becomes evident that they rely on each other to find their own voice.

This novel talks about women pilots and the works they did during WWII. Filling in for the men, who were fightin
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won an uncorrected proof from a Goodreads giveaway.

I liked this story. I was hooked right away with both the main characters. It was an easy read.
While it was an easy read it did touch on a few things such as racism, sexism and even end of life choices. These were only light touches and they did not bog down the story. It never became a slog to go on with finding out what happened next.

I think I will recommend this book for my book club, which is the highest compliment. It is a little light (a
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A story of love and loss, regret and hope. The Secrets of Flight is a real gem. It is a wonderful story told between alternating viewpoints and also between the past and the present.

I love historical fiction, so I really enjoyed reading this. It's not too heavy as it alternates between Mary's story in present time New York, as well as Elyse's so it's not just focused on the past. Even if you're not a fan of historical fiction, you might still enjoy this. I simply couldn't put it down and
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
It is so wonderful to read a book with an older main character. I get so tired of reading books about 20 somethings that reading about 87 year old Mary is a breath of fresh air. And to top that its a wonderful book with two strong main characters. Along with Mary and her secrets, there is 15 year old Elyse who wants to be a writer and who becomes Mary's friend and helper. A very strong bond is built between the two characters as Mary shares the secrets of her life with the teenager. The author d ...more
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like that I am finding more books written on women during WWII. The historical fiction part is told in flashbacks, but I did not find it confusing. The primary characters are women, and all well developed. The main character is only 15, but mature, and I like the way the writer wrote her experiences with family issues, best friend arguments, and meeting boys. Definitely a good read, especially for someone interested in WASPs, the female civilian pilots who assisted the military during the war.
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There's a twist in this book that felt a little too convenient but it made for the most beautiful, uplifting ending. I loved the relationship between Mary and Elyse, loved the honesty of their frustrations (so true to life), loved learning the history of the WASPs and adored the way Mary's friends rallied around her when she really needed them. Lovely story.
Ashley Glovasky
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Rating: 2.5

In a nutshell: Mary Browning, who flew during World War II, decides it is time to stop hiding from her past and enlists the help of Elyse, a teenager that stumbles into Mary’s writing group for the elderly to write Mary’s memoir.

Recommendation: If you’re really into well-written, historical fiction with some mumbo-jumbo about the mechanisms of old planes and about women fighting for their rights, then this is the book for you. I’d say it’s a mixed bag for me personally.

I received th
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! Sad, yet sweet.
Laura Carter
Aug 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I had trouble getting into this book, and then the random cussing and sexual innuendos just ended it for me. Totally unnecessary and out of place in this type of book. And I didn’t like how the chapters were unmarked to let us know who’s perspective we were reading. I would have to go back a page or two because I thought I was reading one perspective, and found out it was someone else. I stopped reading a couple of chapters in.
It felt like the author was trying to mix a historical mystery with
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
I fairly ripped through this one in just a few short days! (I know it's showing a month here, but I just put that into my queue so that it would ensure it was the next one I read.) Thank you so very much to the author for sending this one to me, I'm sorry it took me so long to read it - definitely poor judgement on my part for letting other ones get in before this one. This is a wonderful story! Fantastic and entirely real and wholly developed characters. I recommend for sure.
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
The story of an elderly woman (Mary) working with a creative writing group where she befriends a teenage girl (Elyse). We find that the older woman had connections with a World War 2 program to train women pilots. The majority of the novel is about Mary's back story of how she was selected and what happened during and since the program took place. The book is an easy read and moves at a quick pace. As a man I still found the book entertaining and worth the time.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This book has intriguing potential which was not fully realized. I enjoyed Mary's story and would have enjoyed more of her and less of Elyse, the young girl she befriended. It seemingly bounced back and forth from interesting historical fiction and grating Young Adult fiction.
Overall, I am motivated to read more about the women's air corp.
Nice relationship between a teenager and a 87 year old woman!
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I became very absorbed in this story. Although it revolves around family estrangement, separation and identity there were moments of sheer pleasure in the beautiful narrative.
An unlikely friendship develops between Mary an 87 year old still hiding her Jewish identity and Elyse, a 15 year old who walks into Mary’s writing group and into her heart.
The story alternates between both their lives covering events around WW2 and the present, where Elyse is caught up in the dramas of all the adults in
Natalya Porter
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
I thought this book was amazing! I loved every bit of it, from the first page to the last. I'm probably biased because of nostalgia but the secrets of flight provided a much needed comfort in my time of need. I have read and re-read that book several times and every time it was amazing. I loved it. Every time I read it I felt a nice comforting feeling in my chest which brought a smile to my face.
Susan Koski
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting story, told well, by a fellow Blue Hen/UD grad!
Challice Neipp
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this novel. Well done. I would read more from this author.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
The premise of this book held such promise. I actually loved most of the plot and the prose. I felt the teen make-out session was unnecessary and too trashy. It really brought down the book for me.
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
In The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler, Mary Browning is an 87 year-old widow who runs a writing group for senior citizens at her local library. One day, a fifteen year-old young lady named Elyse joins the group after seeing an ad in the newspaper. Elyse is unaware that it is a senior citizens group, but the members were more than happy to welcome the youngster to their group.

Mary and Elyse become friends, and Mary hires Elyse to type up her memoirs for her. Mary has many secrets from the gr
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
Funny how the older we get, the more we tend to love history. I can honestly say, I hated it in school but truly appreciate it now, especially the role women played in the war efforts that sad to say were missing from my history books growing up. Maybe that is why I appreciate it so much now and to know that few of our WWII veterans remain living, so their stories are just waiting to be told if we simply sit down with them while they are still here to listen to.

In the novel The Secrets of Fligh
Book Review & Giveaway Hop: We’re starting our giveaway for the Amazing Books Giveaway Hop a day early. The book we’ve chosen seems appropriate for Mother’s Day – The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler. It continues our historical fiction theme for the week, yet it also has a contemporary element as you’ll see in the video clip below. It’s a story about family, love, dedication and persistence, and choices made that change people’s lives and the lives of those around them. It’s also about how W ...more
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I think that I would have rated this book higher, as I really enjoyed the plot, but it somewhat confusing for me as the author went back and forth between alternating points-of-view. I thought all modern narrations would be done by the older lady, but that wasn't always the case. I think this novel might have benefited from some editing in that regards. I thought the characters were well thought out and well described. There were, of course, numerous plot threads weaving about and once you get t ...more
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