Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Literally the Best Reviews: Her Last Flight

 Her Last Flight - Beatriz Williams

William Morrow Publishing

400 Pages

I want to start off by saying that this book propelled itself into one of my favorite books of 2020, if not THE favorite of the year. Obviously I love historical fiction, and Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams very aptly fits that description. This was a book where I ignored everyone around me in order to keep reading. This was such an amazing book. 

Now that I have that out of the way, let’s get to the review.

First of all, this book requires a bit of a leap of faith on the reader’s part. Imagine, if you will, that Amelia Earhart’s disappearance was not because of her death, but because she wanted to escape the life she was in? This book is not about Earhart, but it could be.

In 1947, photojournalist Janey Everett is following a story about the disappearance of Sam Mallory. Sam is portrayed as a forgotten pioneer in the aviation field who went missing after fighting in the Spanish Civil War. In an effort to track down Mallory’s story, Janey attempts to meet with a woman she believes may be Mallory’s long lost student and flying partner. Irene Foster disappeared on her own around the world flight in 1937, but Janey believes that Irene Lindquist may just be the famed aviatrix, living in hiding.

The narrative slips back and forth between 1947 when Janey is researching Mallory and Foster, to the 1920s and 1930s when both people are beginning their careers in aviation. The backstory of Janey’s search comes in bits and pieces and affects her methods as she seeks the truth. The early days of aviation and the entry of women into the pilot ranks are showcased in this novel. 

What I loved about this book was the allusion to Amelia Earhart. The character of Irene Foster is loosely based upon that famed pilot. The “what if” scenarios always intrigue me, and this one is one that has me wondering more about Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. A book that makes me want to read more, even other books, is always the best book for me.

The character of Irene is so intricate and interesting. Her view on life in the 1920s and 1930s is so very different than her outlook on life in 1947 when Janey visits her. Her experiences evolve her character. Williams has captured this character’s growth adroitly. The complex relationships she has are explored and prodded to move the story ahead. 

Trying to piece together the mysteries that Janey faced kept me turning the pages. Just when I thought I had most of the story figured out, Williams threw, not one, but two curveballs at me. The first one was an a-ha moment that I should have caught beforehand. The second had me actually yelling aloud. The reveal made the story all the more important to both Janey and the reader. It was simply amazing.

I don’t want to give too much away in this plot. The mystery of it gives it so much more depth. It’s already such an enthralling story that it's worth the read. Discovering the mysteries as you read along make it even better. Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams is definitely one to grab and read. As I said at the beginning of this review, the writing and subject matter made this one of the best books that I read all of 2020. It could be the best one I’ve read. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It will be well worth the time.

Craig Bacon loves the intrigue of historical “what if” stories. He could read them every day.