What a great story the characters were so real and their story was very uplifting especially in a time when women were really treated like second class citizens. It shows how women when they are allowed can accomplish anything they set their minds to and really shown through in a terrible time in the world.
This was a very interesting read about female aviators during the second world war and concentrates on three main characters. May - the cool commander of the British girls, Ruby - her second in command and Lizzie - the brash American whose personality is larger than life.
As a woman who was born after these women were taking to the skies (and yes, the book, although fiction, does document what it was like really like for those early female pilots), I can't even imagine someone telling me that my place is in the home or that I couldn't become a pilot if my talents lay in that direction. But that, and many others things, is what these women had to overcome. These women had their work cut out for them; they faced resistance at every turn, even from their nearest and dearest in some cases.
It is WWII, men are taking to the skies for the war effort, especially in Britain, where there is a very real danger of the country being bombed into oblivion and being taken over by Adolf Hitler. The attrition rate is very high for these pilots and there is a shortage of trained pilots to take aircraft to where they are needed. Enter the ladies; highly trained and skilled, and itching to do their bit for the war effort.
The three main characters in this book were fabulous and the author does a great job of bringing them to life. The only little niggle I have is that after a while the "wailing and flailing" that May was doing about her brother, got a little bit uncomfortable. Yes, of course, she was upset that her brother had died, but the way she was describing him made it sound like he was her husband, and not her brother. Just belaboured the point a tad, that's all.
Ruby is no sidekick, nor is she relegated to office duties… She might look like a doll –in fact I was told by our doctor that a gust of wind might blow her over –but put her up in the cockpit and she’s got the heart of a lion and the bravery of a team of men.
And how in God’s name did you manage to convince a bunch of old men to let women ferry fighter planes? I’ve been petitioning for years – I want to wring all their wrinkly old necks!
I’m in some sort of hell. Honestly, I know hospital was bad, but I’d do anything to be back there and not under the same roof as my mother.
… she smiled when she saw it was a piece of metal welded into a small circle. ‘I promise I’ll give you a proper ring when the war is over,’ he said, pushing it onto her finger. ‘But for now, this is from the damaged engine of a Spitfire.’
We are told as little girls what our expectations should be, and it’s made abundantly clear what our limitations are, but I’m standing here today to tell you that there are no limitations for women, or at least not in the sky. You don’t need to be a burly six-foot man to fly an enormous four-engine bomber, but you do need a brain and single-minded determination. It’s no wonder men feel threatened by us…
They used us when they needed us, and now they want to pretend we’re the inferior sex all over again.
I don’t often read historical fiction but I enjoyed this enlightening tale that equally threaded fact with fiction in featuring the adventurous and brave trailblazing women of WWII aviation. I learned so much, proving my mother’s lectures to be incorrect about my perusal of fiction being a waste of time. The storylines were engaging and entertaining with each of the women being given a uniquely flawed personality and individual quirks, some not so endearing as the brash American Lizzie was an arrogant show-boater, she was ambitious and overly endowed with confidence to the point of obnoxious entitlement. I admired her moxie though, and I also appreciated her spirit and drive.
Lizzie’s nose was eventually lowered, somewhat painfully, but I admired Ms. Lane’s insightful depiction of all the pilots’ various learning curves. I cannot imagine the pressure they were under and I doubt few people realized the danger they were in as they had no weapons, no instruments, no radios, and no artillery, yet they were delivering bombers and other aircraft in a war zone and flying damaged aircraft back for repair or unserviceable craft to the junkyard - which I would believe to have been the most dangerous missions of all. And they did this in poor weather, for twenty percent less pay, among rampant disrespect from the military and often their own families; and although they were pivotal in winning the war, they were quickly iced once the war was over as they were seen as “taking jobs away from men.” My indignation and ire burn hotly – which is why I don’t often read historical books... These courageous gals became known as the ‘Attagirls,’ I like that, sounds sassy!
This was my first experience with Ms. Lane’s words and one I would readily repeat. I found her writing to be easily accessible, engaging, emotive, cleverly amusing, and well-balanced. I noticed two separate listings for her work on Goodreads; one as Soraya M. Lane and one under Soraya Lane, with different types of books on each.