Cover image for The long flight home : a novel
Title:
The long flight home : a novel
ISBN:
9781496721679
Edition:
1st Kensington hardcover ed.
Physical Description:
376 pages ; 22 cm.
General Note:
Includes reading group guide.
Summary:
It is September 1940-a year into the war-and as German bombs fall on Britain, fears grow of an impending invasion. Enemy fighter planes blacken the sky around the Epping Forest home of Susan Shepherd and her grandfather, Bertie. After losing her parents to influenza as a child, Susan found comfort in raising homing pigeons with Bertie. All her birds are extraordinary to Susan-loyal, intelligent, beautiful-but none more so than Duchess. Hatched from an egg that Susan incubated in a bowl under her grandfather's desk lamp, Duchess shares a special bond with Susan and an unusual curiosity about the human world.Thousands of miles away in Buxton, Maine, a young crop-duster pilot named Ollie Evans has decided to travel to Britain to join the Royal Air Force. His quest brings him to Epping and to the National Pigeon Service, where Susan is involved in a new, covert assignment. Codenamed Source Columba, the mission aims to air-drop hundreds of homing pigeons in German-occupied France. Many will not survive. Those that do make the journey home to England can convey crucial information on German troop movements-and help reclaim the skies from the Luftwaffe.The friendship between Ollie and Susan deepens as the mission date draws near. When Ollie's plane is downed behind enemy lines, both know how remote the chances of reunion must be. Yet Duchess's devotion and her singular sense of duty will become an unexpected lifeline, relaying messages between Susan and Ollie as war rages on-and proving, at last, that hope is never truly lost. --
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Summary

"Tense, heartwarming and life affirming, The Long Flight Home gives a fresh slant on heroism in WWII."
--Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of In Farleigh Field, The Tuscan Child and the Royal Spyness novels

Inspired by fascinating, true, yet little-known events during World War II, The Long Flight Home is a testament to the power of courage in our darkest hours--a moving, masterfully written story of love and sacrifice.

It is September 1940--a year into the war--and as German bombs fall on Britain, fears grow of an impending invasion. Enemy fighter planes blacken the sky around the Epping Forest home of Susan Shepherd and her grandfather, Bertie. After losing her parents to influenza as a child, Susan found comfort in raising homing pigeons with Bertie. All her birds are extraordinary to Susan--loyal, intelligent, beautiful--but none more so than Duchess. Hatched from an egg that Susan incubated in a bowl under her grandfather's desk lamp, Duchess shares a special bond with Susan and an unusual curiosity about the human world.

Thousands of miles away in Buxton, Maine, a young crop-duster pilot named Ollie Evans has decided to travel to Britain to join the Royal Air Force. His quest brings him to Epping and to the National Pigeon Service, where Susan is involved in a new, covert assignment. Codenamed Source Columba, the mission aims to air-drop hundreds of homing pigeons in German-occupied France. Many will not survive. Those that do make the journey home to England can convey crucial information on German troop movements--and help reclaim the skies from the Luftwaffe.

The friendship between Ollie and Susan deepens as the mission date draws near. When Ollie's plane is downed behind enemy lines, both know how remote the chances of reunion must be. Yet Duchess's devotion and her singular sense of duty will become an unexpected lifeline, relaying messages between Susan and Ollie as war rages on--and proving, at last, that hope is never truly lost.

"Based on true events, The Long Flight Home has everything I love in a novel--the sense of discovery, the epic drama of a life-or-death situation, and the soaring sense of hope gained from the depths of despair. It's a gorgeous, impressive first novel by a hugely talented author."
--Susan Wiggs, # 1 New York Times bestselling author

"I've always been fascinated by homing pigeons, and Alan Hlad makes these amazing birds and their trainers shine in The Long Flight Home --a sweeping tale full of romance and espionage, poignant sacrifice and missed chances, uncommon courage and the ongoing costs of war. A compelling debut told with conviction and great heart. "
--Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Love and Ruin


Author Notes

Alan Hlad is a corporate executive turned writer. He is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Literary Cleveland, and the Akron Writers' Group. Alan lives in Ohio with his wife and children . The Long Flight Home is his first novel. You can find him online at alanhlad.com, Facebook.com/AuthorAlanHlad and on Instagram @AlanHlad.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hlad's debut snares readers with its fresh angle on the blitz of WWII, focusing on the homing pigeons used by the British, and the people who trained and cared for them. It's autumn of 1940, and the carpet bombings of London have begun. Susan Shepard and her grandfather Bertie raise pigeons on a farm in Epping, outside of London and near the North Weald Airfield, and they rush to their shelter each time the Luftwaffe passes over. Meanwhile, Ollie Evans, an American crop-duster pilot living in Buxton, Maine, has decided to try to join the Allied effort as a Royal Air Force flier. Soon, Ollie meets Susan and the birds she has trained, but before they can explore their feelings for one another, Ollie becomes caught up in the fighting while Susan becomes involved in Source Columba, the real-life intelligence operation that featured the air-drop of hundreds of homing pigeons in occupied France. Descriptions of the horrors of war and the excitement of battle are engaging, and the unusual element of the carrier pigeons lends an intriguing twist. This story will speak not only to romance readers and WWII buffs but also to animal advocates and anyone who enjoys discovering quirky details that are hidden in history. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Hlad's debut delves into an obscure piece of World War II history: the covert mission of the National Pigeon Service, which deployed an army of homing pigeons to send messages to Britain from Nazi-occupied France. In 1940, as the Blitz begins, Englishwoman Susan Shepherd and her grandfather are called on by the military to provide the pigeons they raise on their farm to act as messengers from behind enemy lines. A young American pilot, Ollie Evans, ignores American neutrality and arrives in England determined to join the Royal Air Force; he finds himself staying with the Shepherds, which leads to a blossoming romance between himself and Susan. A series of mishaps sees Ollie on an RAF plane that crashes in France, and one of Susan's pigeons becomes their sole link across the Channel. While some of the characters are a bit thinly drawn, Ollie's attempts to escape from France are gripping, and Hlad adeptly drives home the devastating civilian cost of the war.--Martha Waters Copyright 2019 Booklist