Lighter than Air

Every year I set a goal to read one book a week. I missed the goal in 2022 by one book. Convinced that this year will be different I am reading voraciously. The latest novel is by author Ariel Lawhon and titled “Flight of Dreams.” Although it is fiction it has a historical theme. The fiction aspect contains two separate love stories, a mystery, and much social dialog. The history part comes from the fact that the entire story takes place aboard the last flight of the Hindenburg. Only a few references are made about these huge, lighter than air, ships being used in World War 1, in moving mail, and passengers.

The early part of the story reminded me of a cross country train trip I took on a train. Descriptions of the life in a restricted environment, and the ensuing boredom mixing with the excitement of a adventurous journey stirred my recollections. The author used a tactic that made the reading easier for me. She broke the story up by writing from the point of view of the characters. She begins new segments about a character with the title of the character, such as Cabin Boy, Navigator, Stewardess, Chef, Journalist, American, etc. Since I have trouble remembering characters in any story I read, this tactic helped me establish a connection sooner, and it was more burned into my brain.

The flight from Germany to New Jersey lasted three days and eight hours. This gave the author lots of time to tell the story of over ninety passengers and crew. Of course, she concentrated the narrative on only a select few passengers in order to get the reader into the story. Throughout the tale we know all along how this story ends, the Hindenburg blows up as it is landing. The author periodically gives us a check-point by reminding us how many hours and minutes remain until the “explosion.” What this did for me was to establish a giant curiosity about how the story ends. Would my favorite character be one of those who perish? Would the love interests perish together? Would the American accomplish his goal to revenge his brother’s death in WW I?

I felt that Ariel Lawhon did an amazing job of story telling by turning her story from a slow beginning into a frantically paced thriller in the final pages. Her story left me sad, and happy as I learned which characters survived, and which perished. I learned just enough history in this read to make me want to know more about this form of airship travel.