Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fearless by Erin O'Reilly

Publisher:        Affinity e-Book Press

A story that is getting more coverage in recent years is the one about the women pilots who helped with the effort to win World War II.  Although they were not supposed to go into battle, these women acted as the pilots who ferried planes to the war fronts and to repair facilities.  That occasionally brought them into as much danger as the war zones.

Fearless is about a group called the Air Transport Auxiliary.  Both men and women joined it to carry out work that would free battle-ready pilots for combat.  The story features a group of women who come from such diverse places as England, Ireland, Australia, Texas and Chile.  They also come from diverse backgrounds – rich, poor and in-between, gay and straight.  They train together, they fly together and they form a uniquely molded band dedicated to a common cause.  Two of them, Jo Laughlin and Sarah Faulkner, are particularly popular with the rest of the group, so when they disappear on a mission, everyone goes into a tailspin.  These women face danger and adventure every day.  Can they deal with the possible loss of two of their own?

The topic of the women pilots in World War II is one that has been covered in a number of books recently.  O'Reilly's book doesn't add any new knowledge to that history and unfortunately it doesn't tell a very compelling story.  Too much time is spent devoting chapters to telling the backgrounds events for each of the women.  It feels like the reader is spending chapters reading through biographies.  The details that are necessary for the later story could have been covered much quicker.  The part of the book that relates to the women's experiences flying the planes never explodes with the adventure that would seem to be inherent in this activity.  When Jo and Sarah are shot down in France, little about their adventure really seems to be dangerous until the last few minutes.  As some say in the advertising world, the book just doesn't pop.  It seems to hover right on the edge of catching fire, but misses its chance.  It's similar to eating really good food with a cold.  You know the taste is there, you just aren't receiving it.

It's difficult to know how to classify this book.  There is a small romance in it, but it's very subdued, so the book is not a romance.  There is some adventure, but not the kind that has the reader on the edge of her seat wondering what is going to happen.  It could be classified as historical fiction or possibly a character study of a group of people.  The story itself is fine, certainly for escapist reading.  There are more memorable books about the same topic however.

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