Book Reviews by Mae Clair: Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon #HistoricalFiction #Hindenburg

Striped kitten lying on open book, eyeglasses resting on pages. Book and kitten on white blanket

Recently, a brick and mortar bookstore closed up shop in my area. A discount store that sold new, overstock hardbacks and paperbacks, the place hadn’t been in business that long. Word is a larger retailer expressed interest in the space, along with the two stores on either side, so the outlet center didn’t renew the leases. I haven’t heard what will be taking over all three spaces, but was saddened to see the bookstore go. Before closing their doors, they had a blow-out sale—paperbacks for $1.00 and hardbacks for $2.00. I bought armloads (as if I don’t already have enough to read).

I couldn’t wait to dive into Flight of Dreams, a fictional account of the Hindenburg disaster. Much like the Titanic, I think people are drawn to exploring the tragedy because it’s so mind-boggling. The Hindenburg was meant to usher in a new age of air travel, but its destruction effectively brought an end to the era of the dirigible. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend this stunning novel which masterfully transports you to an earlier age.

NOTE: The Amazon link at the end of the review connects to the Kindle version which has a different cover. I love the hardback cover so much, I couldn’t resist using that in my post.

Black and white image of the Hindenburg exploding into flames at its mooring mast in Lakehurst, NJ
Sam Shere (1905–1982), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Zeppelin the Hindenburg on fire at the mooring mast of Lakehurst (United States of America) 6 May 1937. Ballast water is thrown down. Exit airships.

book cover for Flight of Dreams shows Hindenburg in flight above city with factories, bridge, waterways, tall buildings

by Ariel Lawhon

On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world’s largest airship; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed.
Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them.

Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.

Kindle cover for Flight of Dreams shows woman in foreground, sepia-tone drawings of air ship and air balloons in background
Kindle Cover


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Although a fictional account of the Hindenburg disaster, the author of Flight of Dreams uses actual passengers and crew members on the ill-fated zeppelin to tell the story of its destruction. Chapters alternate between the navigator, the cabin boy, the stewardess (the first female attendant on a zeppelin), a journalist, and an American passenger. There are other non-POV characters who populate the story—including vaudeville performer, Joseph Spah—all of whom breathe life into this amazing tale, and all of whom were either actual passengers or crew. Of the 97 people on the fateful flight, 62 survived.

Ariel Lawhon turns a deft lens on the behemoth air ship and the era in which it graced the skies. The pages are soaked with the nuances of history, the shadow of coming war, and interpersonal relationships. Within the pages you’ll find intrigue that often plays out like a chess match as the hidden agendas of various characters overlap.

The chapters are fairly short, which keeps the plot moving at a steady pace. I liked the way each chapter immediately picks up on the one before it, despite a change in POV. Ending chapters are clipped dramatically short to generate maximum tension.

From the start, the reader knows the Hindenburg is slated for disaster, but seeing how the mammoth dirigible reaches that point keeps suspense simmering just below boil throughout. I loved the descriptions and details of time spent on the air ship. Much like the Titanic, the crash of the Hindenburg—which brought the age of the dirigible to an end—remains a fixation for many. Keep in mind this is a novel, and a fictional account of what might have happened, but it is exceptionally well written. The moment I finished the book, I began Googling the passenger and crew list to learn more. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who has an interest in the Hindenburg, the dirigible era, or who simply enjoys good historical fiction.


66 thoughts on “Book Reviews by Mae Clair: Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon #HistoricalFiction #Hindenburg

    • It was an excellent read, Priscilla. As for the bookstore, I feared it wouldn’t last based on it’s location. Thankfully, there’s still another brick and mortar store in my area, but it’s disheartening to see any of them forced to close up shop.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Teri, I loved the aspect of her using real passengers and crew. Once I finished the book, I had to Google each one of them. It was so interesting because of how I had envisioned them while reading the novel, then I got to see actual photos.

      You would have loved the book sale—sooooooo many books, for so little. The downside, of course, is that the store is no longer there. I hate driving by and seeing the vacant windows. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That’s so sad about the bookstore. I’m glad you got some good deals, though. And I can’t imagine why the ebook cover is different from the hardcover, which is SO MUCH BETTER. I’m glad you shared it.

    The book sounds like it’s rich with character development and historical detail. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Staci, the cover on the hardback was the first thing that caught my eye, while I was browsing. I agree, it’s so much better than the Kindle cover. I have no idea why they made the switch. And yes, the historical detail and character development was fabulous.

      As for all th ebooks I bought, if my TBR was colossal before, it’s now sprouted tributaries! 😆

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’d like the book, Noelle. It was spectacular.
      I remember seeing the newsreel footage when I was in school. And the famous line from the reporter—“Oh, the humanity!”—is sure to echo through centuries.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed the review, Michael.

      I miss the good brick-and-mortar bookstores. Thankfully, we still have another in my area that I frequent, but I remember the days when there were many. I do like Amazon, but it’s really taken a toll on local book buying!

      Have an awesome week! 🙂


  2. It’s always sad to see a bookstore close, but it’s wonderful that you found a few jewels. Your review is exceptional and certainly grabs my attention. Thank you for sharing, Mae. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like what you said, Gwen. I probably wouldn’t have found Flight of Dreams if I hadn’t been browning the sale. It was so sad to see them shut their doors, but I have this gem and others to remember them by. Glad you enjoyed the review!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a treasure you found in that book store Mae! So sad that they had to close. I like the original cover and your review is as nail-biting as this book sounds to be. Thank you for sharing this gem. I would love it, I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It kept me engrossed cover to cover, Sue. Fortunately, we have one remaining brick-and-mortar bookstore in the area. I was excited when the second one opened up, and so sad to see it close. 😞

      Liked by 1 person

    • It was a horrible tragedy and a long-enduring mystery, before they settled on a cause for the explosion, Robbie. I remember seeing a replay of the newsreel when I was in school. The fact that it was captured in real time made it all the more devastating. And reporter Herbert Morrison crying out “Oh, the humanity,” as he watched it explode has gone down in history.
      The book was amazing, and does touch on world conditions at the time with WWII looming near.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I hate to hear of any book store closing regardless of what takes its place. This book sounds like a fantastic and compelling read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it and I agree about the cover!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I already miss the bookstore, Jan, and was so saddened to see it close up shop. We have another in our area, but like you, I never want to see any close their doors.
      The book was amazing, and I love the beautiful cover on the hardback. It’s what caught my attention at the start!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely adding this one, Mae, thanks for sharing your glowing review. I’m a lover of historical fiction, and have always been sorrowful yet fascinated by the Hindenburg disaster.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peachy, Im right there with you on that being “sorrowful yet fascinated”by the Hindenburg disaster. When I saw this book, I couldn’t resist. It’s superb historical fiction. I wish you happy reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. There is something about that Hindenburg photo that strikes terror in me. I think because it’s SO BIG!!! (I’m terrified of scary bridges, probably for the same reason – the metal ones? THEY ARE TOO BIG and over my head!) I can’t imagine being there and seeing this actually take place. What a nightmare.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s sad to lose a bookstore, and it’s even sadder when the store hardly got a chance to get established before someone else wanted its space. HH and I watched You’ve Got Mail last night, and it’s hard to be competitive with the big stores. Glad you got some wonderful books, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judi, I’ll be curious what goes into the space considering it’s supposed to be taking the flanking stores on either side, too. It definitely has to be big box. At least I got a plethora of books to remember the store! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think I read this book when it came out. The Hindenburg has always fascinated me. Sounds like you grabbed up some winners from the book sale. It’s always a shame to see independent bookstores close. Excellent review, Mae!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Pingback: Book Reviews by Mae Clair: Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon #HistoricalFiction #Hindenburg – Nelsapy

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