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Flight of Dreams
Cover of Flight of Dreams
Flight of Dreams
A Novel
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"At every page a guilty secret bobs up; at every page Lawhon keeps us guessing. Who will bring down the Hindenburg? And how?”— New York Times Book ReviewOn the evening of May 3rd, 1937,...
"At every page a guilty secret bobs up; at every page Lawhon keeps us guessing. Who will bring down the Hindenburg? And how?”— New York Times Book ReviewOn the evening of May 3rd, 1937,...
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  • "At every page a guilty secret bobs up; at every page Lawhon keeps us guessing. Who will bring down the Hindenburg? And how?”
    — New York Times Book Review
    On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world’s largest airship; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed.
     
    Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them.
    Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover The Stewardess

    It’s a bad idea, don’t you think?” Emilie asks, as she stands inside the kitchen door, propping it open with her foot. “Striking a match in here? You could blow us all to oblivion.”

    Xaver Maier is young for a head chef, only twenty-­five, but he wears the pressed white uniform—­a double-­breasted jacket and checkered pants—­with an air of authority. The starched apron is tied smartly at his waist, the toque fitted snuggly to his head. He gives her that careless, arrogant smirk that she has begrudgingly grown fond of and puts the cigarette to his lips. He inhales so deeply that she can see his chest expand, and then blows the smoke out the open galley window into the warm May evening. “Ventilation, love, it’s all about proper ventilation.”

    The way he says the word, the way he holds his mouth, is clearly suggestive of other things, and she dismisses him with a laugh. Xaver Maier is much younger than Emilie and a great deal too impressed with himself. “At the moment, love, it’s about aspirin. I need two. And a glass of water if you can summon the effort.”

    The kitchen is small but well ordered, and Xaver’s assistant chefs are busy chopping, boiling, and basting in preparation for dinner. He stands in the center of the melee like a colonel directing his troops, an eye on every small movement.

    “Faking a headache?” he asks. “Poor Max. I thought you’d finally come around. We’ve been taking bets, you know.”

    “Don’t,” she says, flinging a drawer open and shuffling through the contents. She has made it perfectly clear that all discussion of Max is off limits. She will make up her mind when she is good and ready. “I went to the dentist yesterday, and the left side of my jaw feels like it’s about to fall off.” She leaves the drawer open and moves on to another.

    “Usually when a woman tells me her jaw is sore I apologize.”

    Emilie opens a third drawer. Then a fourth. Slams it. “I had a tooth filled.” She’s impatient now. And irritated. “Aspirin? I know you keep it around here somewhere.”

    He follows behind her, shoving the drawers shut. “Enough of that. You’re as bad as the verdammt Gestapo.”

    “What?” She looks up.

    Xaver reaches behind her head and lifts the door to a high, shallow cabinet attached to the ceiling. He pulls out a bottle of aspirin but doesn’t hand it over. “I’m glad to hear you don’t know everything that happens aboard this airship.” He taps the bottle against the heel of his hand, making the pills inside rattle around with sharp little pings. “There’s still the chance of keeping secrets.”

    “You can’t keep secrets from me.” She holds out her hand, palm up. “Two aspirin and a glass of water. What Gestapo?”

    Xaver counts them out as though he’s paying a debt. “They came because of the bomb threats. Fifteen of them in their verfickte gray uniforms.”

    “When?” She takes a glass from the drying board above the sink and fills it with tepid water. Emilie swallows her pills in one wild gulp.

    “Yesterday. They searched the entire ship. Took almost three hours. I had to take the security officers down the lower keel walkway to the storage areas. The bastards opened every tin of caviar, every wheel of aged Camembert, and don’t think they didn’t sample everything they could find. Looking for explosives, they...

About the Author-

  • Ariel Lawhon is the author of The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress and cofounder of the popular Web site SheReads.org. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, and black Lab—who is, thankfully, a girl.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Accident or sabotage? The cause of the HINDENBURG disaster has never been conclusively determined. Narrator John Lee performs this well-researched fictional account of the doomed flight with impressive skill. Although he's a master at accents and the story involves a cast of international characters, Lee delivers this layered audiobook in his own voice, allowing listeners to focus on the action and intrigue. Along with the passengers and crew, the airship itself plays a role in this unsolved puzzle. Lee's clear, expressive delivery highlights the author's careful attention to technical detail as well as the varied personalities, motives, and secrets. Maintaining the mystery and tension to the very end, he successfully avoids foreshadowing through his tone or pacing, so listeners experience the full emotional impact of the fiery conclusion. C.B.L. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 7, 2015
    For her second outing, Lawhon (The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress) once again reimagines a front-page news event, filling in the entertaining backstory with passion, secrets, and nail-biting suspense, this time taking on the disastrous crash of the Hindenburg in 1937. Using the actual passenger list from the doomed airship, the author has concocted a romance between two key crew members, Max Zabel, one of the ship’s navigators, and Emilie Imhoff, the first German stewardess hired for an airship. Since the definitive cause of the Hindenburg’s demise remains a mystery, Lawhon has conceived a plausible explanation that involves an act of revenge against one of the crew members, who, in World War I, flew the airship that bombed London and killed an American passenger’s brother. The tale is fleshed out with other characters, including a lively acrobatic entertainer named Joseph Späh; a journalist, Gertrud Adelt, whose press credentials were recently revoked by the Nazis for her outspokenness; and the cabin boy, Werner Franz, whose trip on the Hindenburg was more of a passage to adulthood than he ever could have imagined. Lawhon threads many stories together, connecting passengers and crew and bringing behind-the-scenes depth and humanity to a great 20th-century tragedy—even though we all know the Hindenburg’s fate.

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