Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The PIlot's Daughter by Meredith Jaeger


This book came out of nowhere thanks to an invite to read and review it (thank you Dutton/Penguin/Random House).  I just got back from vacation and found it in a pile of books while I was unpacking and immediately started reading it. I'm not exaggerating when I say I couldn't put it down. I spent quite a bit of Sunday on the couch reading this historical novel that bounced between 1920's New York ad 1945 San Francisco. 

Ellie Morgan is a secretary at the San Francisco Chronicle and has recently become engaged to a handsome officer stationed in San Francisco as World War 2 rages on. She chafes against societal rules that keep her career limited to housewife or secretary--when all she wants to do is write for the newspaper and wear trousers like Katherine Hepburn. 

However this all falls to the wayside with a telegram stating that her father, a pilot, is missing and presumed dead over the Adriatic Sea near Italy in December, 1944. Devastated, she refuses to believe he's dead--after all, her father was a resourceful man, and surely he survived. The arrival of her father's personal effects is a blow, and comes with an unwelcome surprise: a package of letters from a woman named Lillian in New York, which clearly illustrate a decades long love affair. What??!!

This sends Ellie on a trip to New York City with her Aunt Iris, determined to find Lillian and see if she has any information on her father. What Ellie finds out from her Aunt Iris, as well as the discoveries she makes in New York City change her life forever. 

This did remind me of Fiona Davis novels, in that it took place in NYC and set in the early to mid-20th century. The 1920's portion of the novel involves the Zigfeld Follies, rich men, and an unsolved murder. Yes, it ties into Ellie's quest in 1944 very neatly-you'll see as you read. I just found it fascinating. 

Many parts were predictable, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment at all. I blazed through this story and am eager to read more of Meredith Jaeger's novels. 

Definitely fans of World War 2, early-mid 20th century history, Broadway history, San Francisco, journalism-you name it, this has a little bit of everything in it. It's also about societal and familial expectations, and how going against them can ruin a woman, or set her free. 

A big thanks to Dutton (part of Penguin/Random House) for the chance to read and review this novel. I found an author I enjoy, and that's always a gift. 

This novel is available in trade paperback, ebook, and audio.

Rating: 5/6 for a fast paced historical novel that didn't disappoint-it definitely transported me to the glam of 1920's NYC, and the foggy streets of San Francisco. Likeable characters and definitely a few bad apples, too. 

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