I’m happy to be hosting a stop today on the blog tour for The Long Flight Home by A.L. Hlad. Thank you to Kate over at Hodder books for inviting me to partake and for my copy of the book which I reviewed in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Firstly, a little bit about the book
HOPE FLIES BEHIND ENEMY LINES…
As enemy fighter planes blacken the sky, Susan Shepherd finds comfort at her home in Epping Forest, where she and her grandfather raise homing pigeons. Of all Susan’s birds, it’s Duchess who is the most extraordinary, and the two share a special bond.
Thousands of miles away, Ollie Evans, a young American pilot decides to travel to Britain to join the Royal Air Force. But Ollie doesn’t expect his quest to bring him instead to the National Pigeon Service – a covert new operation involving homing pigeons – and to Susan.
The National Pigeon Service has a dangerous mission to air-drop hundreds of pigeons into German-occupied France. Despite their growing friendship Ollie and Susan must soon be parted – but will Duchess’s devotion and sense of duty prove to be an unexpected lifeline between them?
Based on true events, The Long Flight Home is an uplifting and timeless wartime novel, that reminds us how, in times of hardship, hope is never truly lost.
The Long Flight Home is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is available to buy now in all forms…
A war story and a love story that took me out of my comfort zone…
The Long Flight Home takes place in 1940 WWII in the midst of the London Blitz and focuses on 4 characters: Susan, a young British woman who trains pigeons alongside her grandfather, Bertie. A young man from Maine named Ollie, who wishes to join the RAF as a pilot, and Duchess the pigeon!
At the very heart of and woven into this story of a small but massively important part of history are two beautiful but hard hitting love stories. Firstly, that of Ollie and Susan after they have a chance meeting on a train and end up being brought together for a mission. Secondly, that of one particular pigeon and her owner.
There is a mountain of WWII historical fiction novels out there, but what struck me most about The Long Flight Home was the new light and in depth focus it shone on the National Pigeon Services and their handlers. The author really draws you in to the relationship between Susan and her pigeons (esp Duchess) and their daily life and training together. We all know these small birds were used during the WW’s but from this novel I truly learnt to what extent and just how fascinating, clever and heroic they really were, as well as their devoted and sacrificing handlers, in getting messages over the enemy line.
The Long Flight Home shows the strength, courage, dedication and love in one of histories darkest and bleakest times. The constant obstacles being thrown at the lovers kept me engaged throughout and wanting to keep on turning the pages. Whilst it did take me a little while to warm to the novel to begin with – more so because it’s not one of my regular genres, in the end I found myself falling and rooting for these characters, and yes, that most certainly includes our Duchess, who for me was the biggest hero of The Long Flight Home!
A novel about bonds: family, man and woman, animal and human that’s informative, captivating and heartbreaking – a new take on WWII that will appeal to those who enjoy reading about history, war and animals.
About the author
Alan Hlad, writing as A.L. Hlad, is a corporate executive turned writer who exhibits meticulous and fascinating research in his historical fiction. Alan is a seasoned conference speaker, and a member of the Historical Novel Society, Literary Cleveland and the Akron Writers’ Group.
A runner and hiker, Alan lives in Ohio with his wife and children, along with their Golden Retrievers and the world’s most persistent cat.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review. As always, a little like or share to spread the word is always most appreciated. And to catch up on any of the other stops on The Long Flight Home blog tour, please see below…