I love to travel and I have flown to many destinations, not because I love to fly, but because it makes traveling easier. Having said that, there are two novels I’ve read within the past year that sparked my interest in the early days of flying and the role women played in air travel and exploration.
The most recent of these novels is Murder at Wedgefield Manor by Erica Ruth Neubauer (NY: Kensington, 2021. IBSN: 9781496725882). In this second book of the Jane Wunderly Mystery series, we find our heroine visiting the English country estate of Lord Hughes. Lord Hughes employs several WWI veterans, including Group Captain Christopher Hammond, a flying instructor, and Sergeant Simon Marshall, a mechanic. Jane is fascinated by airplanes and is able to take flying lessons while visiting the manor. She enjoys her lessons and proves to be a superb student. Then Simon is murdered, and it looks like Lord Hughes may have killed him. Although Jane’s aunt, Millie, disapproves of Jane’s lessons, those lessons may come in handy when it comes to solving the case. This is a great mystery set in the 1920s and I love how the characters interact with each other. To find out more about Erica Ruth Neubauer and her books, please click here: Erica Ruth Neubauer – Author
Another book that piqued my interest regarding women in aviation is Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams (NY: Harper Collins, 2020. ISBN: 9780062834782) (Paperback release is May 2021). This is the story of war correspondent/photographer Janey Everett and Irene Lindquist, a pilot and owner of an airline service. Janey is in search of a story about early aviation pioneer, Sam Mallory. She believes Irene is actually Irene Foster, who was a student of Mallory’s years earlier. Publishers Weekly said of this book: “Williams builds irresistible tension with the alternating timelines as the fate of Irene and Sam unfolds with shrewd twists and turns that build to an unexpected jolt.” I say, if you have not read any of Williams’ books previously, don’t hesitate to read this one. To learn more about Beatriz Williams and her books, please click here: Home – Beatriz Williams
I don’t just limit myself to adult books when it comes to reading. A book I read a few years ago for a children’s literature course I was taking was Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, written by Pam Munoz Ryan and illustrated by Brian Selznick (NY: Scholastic Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780590960755). This is a fictionalized story based upon real life, when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt invited Amelia Earhart to the White House in April 1933. The two women decided to go for a ride – in a jet! Here’s an account of the actual event from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt flying from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore | Pioneers of Flight (si.edu)
While we’re on the subject of Amelia Earhart, I recommend the March 2021 release from Sourcebooks – The Girl Explorers: The Untold Story of the Globetrotting Women Who Trekked, Flew, and Fought Their Way Around the World” by Jayne Zanglein (ISBN: 9781728215242). The Society of Women Geographers was formed in New York City in 1925, as women were not allowed to join the Explorers Club. This book documents many of the members’ lives, including Amelia Earhart, who became a member in 1932. This book details how Amelia got her start with her first trans-Atlantic flight, also in 1932, and her ill-fated round-the-world flight in 1937. I love the quote of Earhart’s that Zanglein uses on page 3 as the opening to Chapter 1: “Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” To learn more about this book and the women of this society, please click here: Women explorers fighting discrimination | The Girl Explorers |United States
Want to know more about women who served their country during wartime? I suggest reading The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II by Katherine Sharp Landdeck (NY: Crown, 2020. ISBN: 9781524762810). (Please note: the picture in the title box above is of a teenaged Nancy Harkness (Love), and comes from page 32 of this book.) To learn more about this book, please click here: Katherine Sharp Landdeck
Another book that may interest you is Flying Jenny: a Novel” by Theasa Tuohy (Akashic Books, 2018. ISBN:9781617756214). This is the story of female stunt pilot, set in 1929. The author based this story on the real life of pilots Elinor Smith and Theasa Logan Tuohy, the author’s mother. To learn more, please click here: Flying Jenny – Akashic Books