Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Flying Circus

The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall
Gallery Books: 7/7/15
eBook review copy, 368 pages
hardcover ISBN-13:9781476772141

My Thoughts: 

The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall is a highly recommended novel set in the roaring twenties about three people and a dog trying to escape their past while making their way in the present.

Henry (Schuler) Jefferson is trying to escape from the law for murder. The son of German immigrants in the Midwest, he has endured taunts, false accusations, and prejudice because of his German heritage. After his whole family died, a neighboring farmer took him in. The only problem was the farmer's wife and daughters weren't as accepting. Now something horrible has happened (we won't know the story until the end) and he is on the run, heading to Chicago.
Henry literally runs into Cora Rose Haviland and Gil (Charles) Gilchrist. Cora is on a motorcycle racing Gil, a former Army reconnaissance pilot who is flying a Jenny biplane. When Cora crashes and Gil lands, the three meet and eventually team up together. Currently Gil, a moody loner, has been barnstorming, landing near towns and then offering rides for $5. Henry, a mechanic by nature, sees that he can help Gil, and maybe get a ride placing him closer to Chicago. Cora, in stark contrast, is from a wealthy family who has lost their fortune. Her mother is trying to marry her off to a wealthy man so she can return to her place in society. Cora wants nothing to do with this plan. 

The three, along with a little stray dog Cora names Mercury and teaches to do tricks, team up and form Mercury's Daredevils. While Gil does death defying stunts in the biplane, Cora and Mercury perform stunts on the motorcycle. Henry acts as the mechanic, the announcer, and the money collector. While their choice to team up together is working, it is constantly threatened by their conflicting goals and closely kept secrets. All three are trying to escape from something and none of them have told the others their full story. It doesn't help their alliance when Henry, who is attracted to Cora, sees Cora flirting with Gil. 

The writing is excellent and the subject matter unique. Crandall keeps you reading by hinting at and not revealing the secrets each character is trying to hide until very near the end. I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying, although I felt better about it once I read the epilogue.  Cora's blind enthusiasm for new stunts (and getting her way) in stark contrast to Gil's morose, moody drinking  may jangle a few nerves, but all in all this is a very engaging story with memorable characters and  a compelling plot. It was really a perfect summer novel for sheer escapism.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Gallery Books for review purposes.

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