Somewhat predictable, strains a little to be lyrical in a plain-spoken way and sounds flat instead.
this is a wonderful tho' short read
Imagine a collection of silent movie footage, taken from different viewpoints, and edited together to make a slightly disjointed movie. This was the feel I got from this novel.
This story never really feels as if it is being offered as a viable explanation for what might have happened to Amelia Earhart when she disappeared while en route from Lae, New Guinea to Howell Island, during her failed attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world. Rather it provides a series of other-worldly meditations on scenes that might have happened had the plane crashed on a strange deserted island. Very brief vignettes, sometimes from Amelia's viewpoint, sometimes from another viewpoint.
Amelia and Noonan, her alcoholic (at least in the story) navigator give the island the nickname "heaven"; a joke apparently, but it occurred to me that the entire story might really be about what happened when Amelia died. Perhaps the island really was heaven?
It also crossed my mind that these impressionistic scenes were a collection of fantasies by someone other than Earhart.
I did find this hypothesis
about Earhart's disappearance, which seems to form the possible background to this book. The site from which this comes, The Earhart Project
, has some fascinating information (as well as a scathing, and not terribly fair review
of the book), as does the Amelia Earhart
This book is almost poetry, strung together, just like an edited movie, to create a kind of narrative. I have to say, it left me slightly unsatisfied.
This is a small book, but it seems to say so much more than what is contained in the written word. A most unusual book. I grew up in the same town that Amelia Earhart did, and so I have always had a fascination for her. This book only created more of a hunger for information. Of course, it is fictional, but it "feels" real. Interesting, compelling read.
What a thoughtful little book, quick read!
I enjoyed reading this short, experimental novel. I liked that the author departed from the facts about Earhart's life gradually, first by creating an emotional inner life for Earhart before her final flight and then by going on to fantasize a entire post-crash life for the characters. I even liked the way the POV switches between 1st and 3rd person at will, and the way the book moves away from a narrative altogether by the end.
That being said, I struggled to connect to this book. At times, the atmospheric, dream-like nature of the prose felt strained and I lost emotional connection to the characters. The book is lovely, but it feels more like a work of art than of storytelling. It was beautiful and full of wonder, but not warm or engaging. In the popular imagination, Amelia Earheart is more of a symbol than a human being, and the author did not rectify that problem for me.
Absolutely recommended, though, if you have a high tolerance for abstraction.
In this brilliantly imagined novel, Amelia Earhart tells us what happened after she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared off the coast of New Guinea one glorious, windy day in 1937. And she tells us about herself.
There is her love affair with flying ("The sky is flesh") . . . .
There are her memories of the past: her childhood desire to become a heroine ("Heroines did what they wanted") . . . her marriage to G.P. Putnam, who promoted her to fame, but was willing to gamble her life so that the book she was writing about her round-the-world flight would sell out before Christmas.
There is the flight itself -- day after magnificent or perilous or exhilarating or terrifying day ("Noonan once said any fool could have seen I was risking my life but not living it").
And there is, miraculously, an island ("We named it Heaven, as a kind of joke").
And, most important, there is Noonan . . .
"This is the story of what happened to me when i died. it's also the story of my life...i think of it as a dream... in the dream i am the most famous aviatrix of my day, a heroine..."