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Her Last Flight
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July 2020: Other Books > Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams -- 5 stars + ♥

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited Jul 19, 2020 06:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams
5 stars + ♥

Beatriz Williams hit a home run with this book! This is definitely in my top three—if not the top—of her books. And I have read them all.

As is par for the course with Ms. Williams, we are introduced to several storylines. The pivotal action takes place in 1937, when two world famous pilots—and one time flying duo—independently disappear without a trace. Sam Malloy was flying for the loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and was never seen again. Irene Foster was nearly to the end of a record-setting circumnavigational solo flight and just never landed in Morocco.

Flash forward to 1947 and enter Janey Everett, photojournalist and war correspondent who is determined to find out what happened to Sam Mallory. Her starting points: Spain to track him (or more likely his body) down and then to Kauai, Hawaii, where she is convinced that local pilot Irene Lindquist is the famed Foster.

The story alters between Janey's research in 1947 and the years from 1926 (?) to 1937, starting with Sam and Irene meeting and gradually telling their stories until they disappear without a trace. The story of Sam and Irene is told through chapters of The Aviatrix, a biography about Irene Foster written by Janey.

I was pulled into this story from the very beginning. Janey was very unconventional for her time, sexually free, and running from a difficult childhood. Irene Foster was even more unconventional, taking up flying at a time when no women did so. She was not sexually free like Janey, but she spoke her mind and unapologetically milked the limelight. Williams is so great at the dual timeline. She gives you just a little nugget in the "present" chapter that she then fully explains in the "past" chapter. She does it in a way that keeps you reading without being frustrating.

The book was also helped out by the brilliant narration of Cassandra Campbell. She truly is one of the best.

A few things that kind of annoyed me, but ultimately do not reduce my ranking:
— the ending drug (dragged?) out a bit too long. There is a big reveal (which I honestly saw coming), but then at least hours of audiobook after the big reveal where all is revealed and loose ends are tied up. It could have picked up the pace a bit.
— there was a fairly superficial sexual assault storyline that did provide insight to one of the character's behaviors, but you know I am not a fan of that. I feel like the same types of behaviors could have been included for that character without including the sexual assault.
— I have a feeling this book will be compared to Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. And let me be clear that no matter how much I love Williams, she is no McLain. McLain has the added edge of writing about real women in history, not characters that very loosely based on real women in history (here, Irene Foster was certainly informed by Amelia Earhart). So if you choose to read only one historical fiction about a stereotype shattering female pilot, pick up Circling the Sun first to learn about Beryl Markham. But if you read two books in that specific genre, this should be the other one!

Williams just set a very high bar for all of her future books. And I will certainly be reading them to find out if they are as excellent as Her Last Flight.

message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 8961 comments So excited to read this one! I’m rating it higher! Already on my shortlist. Great review!

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