The story here was brilliantly executed… in its first two thirds. In this section, the drama focuses around the race to determine who will be the first female to pilot a four engine bomber beyond training and the race to get Spitfire fighters to the USS Wasp for an emergency trip to Malta to shore up defenses there. Lane brilliantly balances the personal and the professional through this section across all three of her leading ladies, and the book truly shines.
But after the race to get the Spitfires to their staging base, the book switches gears and the balance of the drama stumbles as the primary emphasis is placed on the personal while the professional primarily happens off screen and is more often told of in letter form than shown. While there are still some haymakers thrown here, including one that touched this reader personally with his father having similar struggles, it just isn’t quite as “unputdownable” through this section as the first two thirds of the book were.
But the final chapter of the book is an excellent ending to the mainline story, and while the epilogue is arguably unneeded, it does at a final exclamation – and catharsis – point.
Overall, a strong book that could have been stronger, and I’m looking forward to reading more work from this author.
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Roaring Fire That Sputters Out. This was an excellent and engaging tale of the Air Transport Auxiliary and the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II and what those ladies went through to even be allowed to serve. The book spends the front two thirds dealing primarily with a race between two young pilots to be the first to fly a four engine bomber outside of training as well as the race to ferry Spitfire planes to board the USS Wasp for an emergency trip to Malta to shore up defenses there. And it is in this part of the book that it is a roaring, all consuming fire – brilliantly told and executed. Where the book sputters out a bit is in the back third, where it switches gears to more emotional punches that are often happening off screen. The mainline story ends well with the final chapter, and the epilogue adds a final exclamation point to the tale. Strong book that could have been stronger, perhaps as a duology or even trilogy.