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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Book Review: Windshift by Joyce Faulkner

This a wonderful story involving the reader in the personal and professional struggles of four brave female pilots at a time when it wasn't socially acceptable for women to take on male duties.
by Joyce Faulkner

  • File Size: 500 KB
  • Print Length: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Red Engine Press (October 22, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • ASIN: B009VM07VU
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 4.75

Book Description
Publication Date: October 22, 2012
Shirley Maxwell is a troubled young woman facing a complicated personal life, a culture that restricts female options, and a world at war. Yet, together with friends -- Emmie, Delores, and Mags -- she joins Jackie Cochran's Women's Air Service Pi-lots program (WASP) and participates in the adventure, challenges, and tragedies of the 1940s with determination and courage. Shirley and her friends know what they are tackling will be hard, but they do it anyway and relish the effort. In the process, they change what is possible in the minds of young girls everywhere. Lively and moving, Windshift inspires and educates. Appropriate for history buffs interest-ed in the World War II era, students of social change, those who love tales of der-ring do and those who just love airplanes.

This book tells the story of four young women in the short-lived Women's Air Service Pilots program (WASP) in the early 1940s. The experience is told by Shirley Maxwell, the conservative daughter of wealthy News magnate, George Maxwell. Through the pilot program Shirley meets three other young ladies at the Windshift Inn in Ohio. Shirley quickly becomes friends with exuberant, courageous Emmie who has consistently moved forward in her young life after being raised an orphan, finding love with a wonderful guy and then losing him in a tragic accident.

Delores is the gorgeous one of the group attracting all the men, like bees to honey. Shirley initially takes a dislike to her, thinking she will be a snob, but Shirley soon learns that Delores is really down to earth, helpful and friendly. The final lady in the group is confident, outrageous Mags who has already had extensive flying experience even in Europe. She knows her away around the system and is on a first name basis with the commanding officer.

The girls struggle to be accepted as they face public prejudice against women in the work force and cope with the hostility of resentful service men who feel they are taking their jobs. Shirley and her friends are adventurers in a time that doesn’t allow women much freedom. At one point Delores remarks “You know, I thought I was doing something good – something patriotic, but they make me feel like I’m a criminal, like I’m intruding on some private male domain.” Location 1478.

The four girls develop a strong bond and they push to do more then just ferrying planes from Wiley Aircraft in Ohio to Camp Morgan, California. The more experienced pilots, Mags and Emmie, are allowed to deliver planes elsewhere and transport important officials.  The commander finally agrees to allow the girls to fly banners for target practice. This is duty that the male pilots don't like as the planes are patched together and the flying is subject to possible hits from the men practicing the shooting.

Danger and tragedy strikes Delores first when a banner pulling plane fails and she has to crash land. While Delores recovers from that incident, a short time later Emmie goes up in a plane that has been continually grounded due to mechanical problems. The plane tumbles from the sky in front of Delores, Shirley and the men. They all race to try to reach Emmie before the plane is engulfed by fire.

There is drama and romance that plays an important part in the emotional aspects of the girls’ lives. Shirley ends up with two love interests. One is a handsome, determined young business man who tries to get her to stop flying. The other is an exciting young man she meets in Key West. He shares her love of flying but could he be serious marriage material?

This isn't the typical story that I read but I was completely fascinated by the deep-seated resentment against women even though they were coming forward to help in the war effort. The story is well written and there is plenty of forward motion that captivated my interest. The characters are “real” making this seem like a memoir more than just fiction. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy reading historical fiction and courageous women.
Fifinella (designed by Walt Disney) unit patch
Army Air Force Flying Training Detachment.
I picked this up for review through NetGalley.

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