Aaahhh, a good historical fiction book is like nothing else. Crossing the Horizon by Laurie Notaro is a new release I’ve been hearing about for a long time, and I was overjoyed to get my hands on it. Crossing the Horizon made me laugh and cry, and it taught me dozens and dozens of things I never knew. I would highly recommend this new release for anyone interested in an excellent story, 1920s history, and the little-told story of the aviatrixes who competed with Amelia Earhart for the title of first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
Crossing the Horizon has three main characters: the Honorable Elsie Mackay, the self-styled “Queen of Diamonds” Mabel Boll, and the beauty pageant star turned aviatrix Ruth Elder. All three of these women fought bitterly for the honor of becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic; as history knows, none of them were completely successful. But that doesn’t mean their stories should be lost to history. This incredible novel combines their stories in novel form, delivering an exhilarating portrait of their lives, loves, histories, and courageous endeavors to cross the stormy Atlantic in their tiny planes.
The action truly begins in 1927, when Charles Lindbergh, aka “Lucky Lindy” becomes the first person to cross the Atlantic by air. He was an immediate celebrity and set the world on fire with his achievements, and it was only a matter of time before people tried to emulate his feat. First, there’s Elsie Mackay, the daughter of an English earl and an impressive pilot. Her family is dead set against her plans to cross the Atlantic, for very good reasons: dozens have died attempting the crossing. Still, the meticulous, talented, and courageous Elsie is determined to be successful.
Then there’s Ruth Elder, a young beauty pageant queen who uses her winnings to take flying lessons, and who is approached by two pilots who want to turn her into a star. She has serious charisma and beauty, and coupled with her flying talent, becomes one of the most famous women in the world.
Finally there’s Mabel Boll, a shallow, conniving, and clueless rich widow who strong-arms pilot after pilot into agreeing to fly her across the ocean simply so she can stake her place in history. Compared to the other two women, Mabel is talentless and the kind of character you love to hate. She’s also the woman who competed directly with Amelia Earhart when the latter became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, so her inclusion, aside from providing some color and comic relief, is warranted, if at points a little annoying.
One of the things I loved best about Crossing the Horizon was getting to know the characters, especially Elsie Mackay. I was out of breath and reading furiously at her parts, and I completely fell in love with Elsie both as a character in this novel and as a historical figure I’ve never even heard about. Her story is definitely one to research!
History comes dizzyingly to life in this incredible novel. I learned about the beginnings of transatlantic aviation, the people who pioneered the skill, and was utterly immersed in the world of the 1920s in both the United States and England. I loved absolutely every minute of it all.
I received this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.