Good historical fiction and a reminder to follow your dreams 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book.
The blurb: In Edwardian England, aeroplanes are a new, magical invention, while female pilots are rare indeed.
When shy Della Dobbs meets her mother’s aunt, her life changes forever. Great Auntie Betty has come home from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, across whose windswept dunes the Wright Brothers tested their historic flying machines. Della develops a burning ambition to fly and Betty is determined to help her.
But the Great War is coming and it threatens to destroy everything – and everyone – Della loves.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The characters are mostly likeable, although it did take me a while to warm to the protagonist, Della. The historical research behind this story is meticulous and the (often surprising) details regarding the early days of aviation, the First World War and other small period touches all serve to give a vivid sense of the era and the male-dominated field Della chooses to navigate.
I preferred the first half of the book. It was great discovering Della’s love of flight with her, realising she has a true calling, and then following her as she overcame all obstacles and ignored appalling male scorn and sabotage to achieve her dreams. I also liked her Great Aunt Betty, who brought warmth and humour to every scene she was in.
I found the second half more hard going, which surprised me as I like a good romance. This is the only reason I haven’t given the book 4 stars. I wish I could be more specific as to why this section didn’t move me as much as the first, particularly as there was lots going on!
Overall: I would recommend The Wild Air to all fans of historical fiction and particularly to anyone who – like me – has everything to learn about the brave, pioneering women involved in the early days of aviation.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul