When air travel began to grow into an industry, it was a very luxurious trip–nothing like the packed subway train-like atmosphere of today’s flights. There was dinner on real china, privacy for sleeping, and a very glamourous aura to it all. First with the ill-fated Hindenburg, then on airplanes, it was a very posh mode of travel. Ladies wore furs and jewelry. You could even say it was “heavenly,” couldn’t you?
The other side of the coin is the crash landing or other disasters. They still happen. What made people want to survive? How did they do it? These are stories of journeys, too.
The true story of how it all began–told by the incomparable David McCullough. My full review here.
I enjoyed this air voyage! Suspense, mystery, luxury–it has it all. You can read my 2016 review here.
I love following Melanie Benjamin on Twitter, but this book, while the story is very good, veered into several of my historical fiction pet peeves–modern thoughts and silly errors. The story, as I said, was compelling, and who more personified air travel than Charles Lindberg at this point in time? The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin.
I read this before leaving for the Peace Corps. This one is a memoir, not a novel. Beryl Markham, who extorted lifetime payments from the late Duke of Gloucester over a child that likely wasn’t his, is best remembered as a female pilot and adventurer (and adventuress!) in Kenya’s Happy Valley Set. This is a good read regardless. West With the Night by Beryl Markham
I really MUST read this one! It’s been on my TBR since the 1970s. I own a very nice copy. I pull it out, get started, then something happens and it ends up under my bed for a year or two until I start the process over.
Here’s the blurb:
…a British diplomat serving in Afghanistan and facing war yet again—this time, a civil conflict forces him to flee the country by plane. When [his] plane crashes high in the Himalayas, [he] and the other survivors are found by a mysterious guide and led to a breathtaking discovery: the hidden valley of Shangri-La. Kept secret from the world for more than two hundred years, Shangri-La is like paradise…
Lost Horizon by James Hilton
We’ve come a long way, Baby, to get where we’ve got to today! [Anyone else remember that jingle?] I remember my parents laughing while reading this one when it came out. I’m sure it would have to be self-published today, it’s simply that un-p.c. Think “Mad Men” traveling and you about get the picture. Coffee, Tea, or Me? by Donald Bain
I couldn’t leave this one out! Arthur Hailey created the disaster book. I haven’t read this, but I came of age during the movies and the spoof–Airplane movie. Airport by Arthur Hailey.
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe is NOT a novel–it just reads like one. It is an amazingly well-told story of the American Mercury Astronauts–and of Chuck Yeager, test pilot extraordinaire. Air travel and space travel all told in a manner that makes you not want to put it down. Then, when finished, watch the movie–it’s nearly as good.
Can you recommend any others? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post.