Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Flying Circus - by Susan Crandall: Book Review

The Flying Circus was read at a too slow pace for me. I had a hard time getting the feel of this book. It's a historical novel, so I should have been more captivated by the book from the very beginning, however this did not happen. Set in the middle of the 20s in the USA, you get the feel of a "road trip", rather than the roaring 20s everybody is used to read about when that time period is mentioned. It was a nice perspective, but not enough to save the book for me.

Henry Schuler/Jefferson runs away from his home county in Indiana because he is suspected of murder. He doesn't really know what happened, except that because he is German he is looked down upon and his future is too grim to stay put. As he runs away, he meets Gil and Cora, two rebels at heart, each deeply wanting to escape their present surroundings. In a predictable and very rushed way, Henry falls in love with Cora, Gil and Cora fall in love with one another, and this love story is ended in a very convenient and boring way. While I could emphasize with Henry, I didn't like the way his infatuation with Cora grew bigger and bigger as the novel progressed. It felt too stretched and fake.

And speaking of Cora - a young woman of merely 18, coming from a rich family, now ruined because of the war - she seems to be good at everything, pointing out there's nothing she can't do that she sets her mind to (paraphrasing here)... well, Cora is a very fake and selfish character, in my opinion, although this is far from what was aimed. She seems set on her idea to because an aviator, a rare thing for a woman, but despite her ambition, what ruins her image is the air of superiority that she presents. She's a good judge of character, she can even give Henry tips on how to try to remember what happened in Indiana, she has some detective skills that she insists on using and lo and behold! she actually succeeds in moving things along in Henry's case back in Indiana, of course in a favorable direction. Quite a catch this Cora!

As for Gil, the other important character - I liked him; I wish there were a way to save him. I was more interested in a future for him then Cora, mainly because she seemed all set and ready to take over the world, but in Gil's case there was a bit more to work with and on. Also, some more interest in him from the author wouldn't have hurt. For example: for about 2-3 chapters, while on holiday and away from the barnstorming season, we see Henry and Cora more than it was needed, while nothing was mentioned of Gil, except the implied idea that his presence would ruin what Henry hoped he had going on with Cora. I understand the author's desire to focus on Henry, since he's the main character after all, but still, tell me more about this character Henry claims is so important to him. I feel like an unnecessary void was left there. 

Despite the strong feelings the characters arose in me (who knew this would happen from a slooow paced novel), I liked the idea of the novel, namely barnstorming. For starters, I didn't know this was what all those crazy acrobatics were called. It was nice to see a little bit of the beginning of airplane flying, too. Whenever I read books set in the past and they are talking about things we take as normal nowadays I can't help but think "Man, if you knew!" I can only imagine the amount of research that was needed for this book, and because of that I can say that as an inexperienced reader in all things planes and flying, the "technical" information provided was just right, not too much to overwhelm, but the right amount to give the reader an idea about the way things worked.

The book seemed stretched a bit more than necessary, maybe because of the slow beginning, and the ending was predictable and in the same time lacking a strong emotional involvement. Just 2 stars for this novel.

This started with a desire to just write a few sentences about how I liked this book, but I guess I had some pent-up feelings about this book.
{!} I kept the rating constant - that is 2* both here and on Amazon. The general feeling: I didn't like, it was just OK.

Reason I read it: Net Galley review. All thoughts expressed here are my own.
Language read in: English
Rating: 2*

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