Publisher: William Morrow
Publication date: May 3, 2016
Paperback: 368 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
This captivating, breakout novel—told in alternating viewpoints—brings readers from the skies of World War II to the present day, where a woman is prepared to tell her secrets at last.
Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her past. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is still haunted by secrets and fading memories of the family she left behind. Her one outlet is the writing group she’s presided over for a decade, though she’s never written a word herself. When a new member walks in—a fifteen-year-old girl who reminds her so much of her beloved sister Sarah—Mary is certain fate delivered Elyse Strickler to her for a reason.
Mary hires the serious-eyed teenager to type her story about a daring female pilot who, during World War II, left home for the sky and gambled everything for her dreams—including her own identity.
As they begin to unravel the web of Mary’s past, Mary and Elyse form an unlikely friendship. Together they discover it’s never too late for second chances and that sometimes forgiveness is all it takes for life to take flight in the most unexpected ways.
I really had no idea what I was going to get when I agreed to read and review The Secrets of Flight. I had no idea what a treat I had ahead of me. From the first page where the reader is introduced to Mary - on her eighty-seventh birthday, at her writer's group meeting - to the very last page, I was completely immersed in the lives of Mary Browning and Elyse Strickler.
I found myself intrigued and curious about exactly why Mary was so secretive about her past, and I really liked her as a character. I liked the group dynamic of the writers - there are some people that Mary seems to avoid and doesn't seem to like very much, but in the end, there is a strong bond of friendship.
Elyse is the young writer who joins the group of much older people. Somehow she manages to fit into this eclectic group and actually brings them together and makes the group stronger. I enjoyed the developing friendship between Mary and Elyse and the way they each seem to bring out the best in the other.
I enjoyed reading about the women pilots and their determination to learn to fly despite all the resistance they encountered. Until reading this book, I was unaware of such a program as the Women Airforce Service Pilots and the novel provides a fascinating look at what it might have been like for these women.
I enjoyed The Secrets of Flight so much that I read it in a single day. I won't give the twist away, but I did see it coming (or, more accurately, I hoped my guess was correct), but this didn't detract from my enjoyment at all. There is so much about The Secrets of Flight that I loved - the gradual revelations of Mary's past, the reasons for her secretiveness and guilt; the relationship between Mary and Elyse; Elyse growing into young adulthood while Mary deals with advancing age and loneliness; as well as just the characters themselves. I definitely recommend The Secrets of Flight to pretty much all readers and I think that it would make a great selection for book clubs.
About Maggie Leffler
Maggie Leffler is an American novelist and a family medicine physician. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she graduated from the University of Delaware and volunteered with AmeriCorps before attending St. George’s University School of Medicine. She practices medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and sons. The Secrets of Flight is her third novel.
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