Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Woman in the Wing by Jean Sheldon

Reviewed for Review the Book
Published by Bast Press

I am so excited by this book and very pleased to recommend it. It is well-written, intense, and true to itself. Jean Sheldon really knows how to tell a story. Taking place after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it is a work of fiction in a very realistic presentation. Based on the work of women in the United States during wartime, it centers around the work of the "Rosie the Riveters" as they came to be known, and the women pilots in the WASP. Jean Sheldon has given us an insight into the personal and work lives of these women, reflecting the attitudes of the time, and giving us a good dose of sabotage and espionage as well.

"The Woman in the Wing" grabbed my attention and held it until even after I finished the book. I think this is the longest I ever sat with one book trying to read it all at once.  If it weren't for requiring nourishment and sleep, I'm sure I would have done just that. This is not something I say often.

There are not many works of fiction that feature the women, although the author gives some references on-line for non-fiction resources at the back of the book. I even found myself looking up some of the planes mentioned after reading the descriptions!  The story primarily follows the paths of two very good friends and neighbours who want to fly and manage to get the training for it. But Char, our chief protagonist, has run into the male-domination theme so prevalent in the this era, and she is told she will not get her wings because of something distasteful to her which she flat out refuses. I, being a child of the 1940s, applaud Ms. Sheldon for incorporating this imbalance of humanity that was very current at that time and still persists in some ways today.

Enter the FBI searching for Nazi spies in the warehouses and hangars. There appear to be a number of them sabotaging the planes being built and those in use. Since Char is being "punished" for her refusal of the Major's proposal, she has been sent to be a riveter, along with her friend Max.  They are soon required to watch out for suspicious behaviour and report it to the FBI. They know there are FBI agents working in the facility too, but they don't know who they are.

Accidents have increased in the facility over the past 3 months and are becoming more personal than just slowing production. It soon escalates to planes crashing, equipment falling, and murder, with deaths and injuries piling up, building from fear to terror for the women. Character-driven, the plot accelerates through the whole book until the reader may find he/she is out of breath. I highly recommend this book for its research, subject matter, characterizations, and its exciting, suspenseful finish.

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