My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ariel Lawhon has clearly done her research in Flight of Dreams. The detailed descriptions of the Hindenburg are fascinating, especially of the areas that present risk.
Schulze leads them to the opposite door, also glass, and into the smoking lounge. If the rest of the ship is luxurious, this room is opulent. Priorities, Gertrud thinks, the Zeppelin-Reederei knows whom to indulge. Leather benches and armchairs line the perfectly square room, leaving the center open. Hand-painted murals of early hot-air balloons decorate the walls. Small square tables are set with playing cards and poker chips. Carpet, such a dark blue that it looks like spilled ink, covers the floor.
The focus in the preceding paragraph is about pampering the rich, but the smoking area is carefully insulated and ventilated - for safety. When one of the crew lights a cigarette in a different area, Emilie (A stewardess who is one of the main characters) reacts:
“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.”
Later, Emilie is scolded for allowing children to play with a toy car with grinding gears that can create problems:
“Sparks! How could you let them play with something that sparks? Have you forgotten where we are?”
It's clear that the authorities recognized the dangers inherent with the Hindenburg and have decided to deal with them by establishing rules, rather than rethinking the concept.
Lawhon chose to write about “the real people on board,” people who didn't have much in common with each other. Perhaps this is the reason I thought the characters' personal stories were less interesting than the details of the airship. I never found the subplots about romance, competition, or desire for advancement to be believable. There was, however, one great exception. The Hindenburg was owned by the Nazi government in Germany, a fact that was made clear by the swastikas painted on the tail. A few of the passengers were not happy with the Nazis and were reacting in their own way to their displeasure. I liked the subtlety and the variety of their shared vexation.
Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul
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