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The Infinite Air

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  240 ratings  ·  49 reviews
The rise and fall of the 'Garbo of the skies', as told by one of New Zealand's finest novelists

Jean Batten became an international icon in 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn't get enough of her.

In 1934, she broke Amy Johnson's flight time between England and Australia by six days. The following
Paperback, 464 pages
Published March 6th 2016 by Aardvark Bureau (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf-history, nz, nf-bio
This is a very interesting biography of Jean Batten, the NZ pioneer aviator famous in the 1930s for breaking the women's record for a flight from England to Australia. She was a very talented musician (could have pursued a career as pianist) graceful (also as a dancer) as well as apparently being very beautiful (also known as Garbo of the skies).
The book is very well written rags to riches story; however, I didnt particularly like the protagonist, as she had the habit of taking advantage of her
The Infinite Air is a novel that brings together much that is known about the international aviation legend Jean Batten and through research, letters, radio excerpts brings her character and personality to life, in a more understanding and compassionate way than some of the more judgemental depictions of her in the past, views that hastened to depict her as a gold-digger, due to her adept success at raising the necessary funds to support her desire to break long haul aviation records.

She was New
Suze Lavender
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When Jean Batten is a young girl she only has one wish, she wants to fly. That thought never leaves her, when she's older she still wants to be able to control a plane and be in the air. Together with her mother she chases her dream. She meets many different people and travels a lot. When she finally has the chance to fly it's time to set records. Jean Batten has a promising career until the Second World War ends what she loves the most.

Jean Batten is a talented woman who can do whatever she
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel about Jean Batten is an exploration of the pioneering New Zealand aviator and her life. Fiona Kidman's writing flows seemingly effortlessly, making it easy to read, and is a fine example of a skilled writer who uses her craft to best advantage. The language is authentic of the period, and there is a good balance between dialogue, action and description.
The author portrays Jean Batten sympathetically, while remaining true to the attitudes of the time about gender, race and class.
I really enjoyed this fictional version of the life of New Zealander, Jean Batten who was a pioneering aviator.

I think the book was originally published in 2013, but through Netgalley and Aardvark Bureau, I was given the chance to read a forthcoming UK edition in exchange for an honest review.

There are many detailed reviews which chart the details about the novel, so I will not try to repeat what has been written before.

The author, Fiona Kidman has created a beautifully written story which
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To my shame I knew little about Jean Batten, New Zealands most celebrated aviatrix from the early days of flying. This excellent novel from acclaimed NZ author Fiona Kidman is a wonderfully compelling fictionalized biography, meticulously researched, accurate (as far as I can tell, anyway) and fleshed out by Kidmans imagination to reveal an intriguing and sometimes controversial character and her unusual life. Jean Battens achievements as an aviatrix are quite astonishing, as is her ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this Audio book .. the telling of the life story of Jean Batten, a New Zealand pilot who succeeded in both achieving and breaking solo flying records in the 1930's and 40's, before the onset of war put an end to her career ..

Although a non-Fiction biography, which has obviously been well researched, I was impressed with the writing style which came across more like a work of fiction and didn't get bogged down with too many finite facts of her life ..

It was lovely to learn about a
Fiona Kidmans The Infinite Air, however, is a most interesting novel. By fictionalising the exploits of Jean Batten, New Zealands record-breaking aviatrix, she has created a captivating novel which (if Wikipedia and the bibliography at the back of the book are anything to go by) is a faithful account of Battens life. She was an extraordinary woman, who transcended a difficult upbringing to achieve an ambition that was fostered from infancy by her mother, who pinned a newspaper clipping of Louise ...more
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was my first chance to try out NetGalley, and what a book to begin with!

The Infinite Air is the story of aviatrix Jean Batten, who broke records as a woman pilot in the 1930's. Her life of struggle, both financially and in the male-dominated world of aviation, is beautifully told by the talented Fiona Kidman. Batten's life is chronicled from her difficult upbringing through the challenges of obtaining her pilot's license, speckled with humor, and will have you biting your nails as she
Victoria Johnston
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won this book as part of a First Reads Giveaway on Goodreads.

I knew absolutely nothing about Jean Batten prior to reading this novel but afterwards I feel like I know her better than half of my close friends.

The writing style is very accessible - especially in respect of some of the more "boring " sections of the book dealing with aeroplanes. (At least boring to me - I am more of a car girl but I am sure plenty of people would prefer aeroplanes!) At times I hated Jean and at other times I
Liz Williams
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An story of one of the early women aviators. Although based on fact I felt the author failed to inject the passion and excitement associated with the amazing feats that the heroine achieved. It was an interesting story but a bit slow . I do think she described Jean's later years well however. There was a sense of despair that came with loss of loved ones and perhaps the tail end of a life that was almost an anticlimax after so much achieved. I have read other books by Fiona and enjoy her ...more
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
A fabulous story that needs to be told... just perhaps not like this. This version lacked passion and energy and seemed to concentrate on facts. I admire Jean for achieving her dream, and her mum for helping her get there, but I felt a lot of sympathy for the men who she used on the way. Perhaps if I was beautiful I might understand this strategy a bit better. The most moving bit was the story of Beverley Shepherd and the love that might have been. I found the writing almost tedious to read, ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring story based on someone I hadn't heard of before and am glad to learn of her passion, dedication and overruling of what a woman should do in her time. I loved the passages where Jean is flying on her own, out to set some records! So romantic in the thought of all of this in 1930s outfits! Nicely covering her life and yet tightly written.
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of a fascinating life with a sad ending. The writing is often prosaic and the sense of adventure which drove Jean Batten to fly across the globe is not captured in this fictionalized account of her life.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slightly disappointing. Jean Batten - not very likeable.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This was lovely to listen to. I don't read much biography, but decided that in the hands of a well known writer it might be good ... and it is.
Jane Gregg
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An in depth look at the life and times of the mysterious and dashing Jean Batten - heroine of the skies. A really gripping read.
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty ignorant of Jean Batten's feats. Here is a great story of her life and achievements and beautifully written.
Jeanna Rodgers
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really pleasant read with some great historical information. Fascinating story of an amazing woman!
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nz-authors
Until reading this book I did not realise how little I knew about Jean Batten nor how famous she was around the world. Fascinating reading.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
New Zealand has produced some truly amazing women over the decades. My all time favourite is Nancy Wake, the Whtie Mouse who was on Hitler's most wanted list. Jean Batten would have to be my second favourite, a marvellous woman who did spectacular feats of flying and survival in the 1930s. If she was a cat, she would have used up a number of those nine lives: her courage and determination were extraordinary, and she became a legend in her own lifetime.

Extraordinary things happen to ordinary
Elizabeth Heritage
Originally posted on

Human flight is extraordinary. Its easy to forget, these days, when commercial flying has become as monotonous as commuting. But to fling ourselves into the sky, to zoom at speed through the air, and to safely land in the place we were aiming for - these are spectacular acts.

Two books recently published bring this to life: The Infinite Air by Fiona Kidman, and One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson. The former is a novel about pioneering
Vonne Learmonth
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Really well written.
Trish McCormack
Worthy, plodding & depressing
Olivia Ard
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I was excited to read this historical biography, so to speak, of the late aviatrix Jean Batten, mostly because I know shockingly little about the history of aviation. The evolution of transportation never fails to blow my mind. Less than a hundred years ago, flying from the UK to Australia in 14 days and 22 hours was an amazing, record-breaking feat. Today, you can make the same journey in less than a day. Outstanding, is it not? A few decades of technological development, and suddenly we have ...more
Jean Batten is one of the worlds greatest aviators. She is the first woman to fly solo across from England to New Zealand and also broke many records during her solo flights. However, while she is a famous icon, she has a mysterious life. In this historical novel, Mrs. Kidman tells a more intimate story of Jean Battens personal life. This book details Jean Battens accomplishments as well as her personal losses.

Before reading this book, I did not know anything about Jean Battens life. This novel
Maria Beltrami
La biografia romanzata di Jean Batten, ormai dimenticata ma a suo tempo famosissima Garbo dei cieli, così chiamata per la sua bellezza, e dal nome del suo primo aereo, detentrice di parecchi record di volo in solitaria. Dalla natia Nuova Zelanda, bambina e poi giovane donna dotata di molti talenti, non esisteva un campo nel quale eccellesse, al punto che si prevedevano per lei carriere ai massimi livelli nella danza, nella musica, nella scrittura e nel teatro. Invece scelse il volo, sui piccoli, ...more
The Infinite Air is a novel based on the life of Jean Batten, a New Zealand woman who set several records for intercontinental solo flights.

I started this book thinking it would be a pale imitation of Circling the Sun, Paula McLain's excellent novel based on the life of Beryl Markham, another early aviatrix. But as I read further, I became utterly engrossed by Jean's story, which is fascinating and unique. Like Beryl Markham, Jean Battan was one of those women who achieved an unprecedented
John Mccloskey
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
It took me a couple of attempts to get the time to read this book - like Jean Batten's flying missions, there were delays and aborted efforts before, finally it soared and flew in record time. I found it a little confusing to begin with as it jumped back from a current time to the past, but once i settled in to it I found it enjoyable, inspiring and , ultimately, emotional. Knowing nothing of Jean Batten, I will not attempt to comment on how factual the events are, but, as a story and portrait ...more
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Fiona Kidman is a leading contemporary novelist, short story writer and poet. Much of her fiction is focused on how outsiders navigate their way in narrowly conformist society. She has published a large and exciting range of fiction and poetry, and has worked as a librarian, producer and critic. Kidman has won numerous awards, and she has been the recipient of fellowships, grants and other ...more

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