Friday, August 31, 2012

Flight from Berlin (Review)

Title: Flight from Berlin
Author: David John
Publication Information: HarperCollins, July 2012, ISBN 978-0-06-209156-7
Genre: Historical Fiction/Suspense

Plot: 1936: Glamorous swimmer Eleanor Emerson is on her way to the Berlin Olympics to defend her gold medal but parties so hard crossing the Atlantic that Avery Brundage bounces her off the team. Friends offer her a job as a journalist (her name/reputation as byline while real-life writer Paul Gallico provides the actual reporting) and at first Eleanor is happy to attend parties. She is not a fan of Hitler but is oblivious to what he represents until she overhears a threat to keep two Jewish American athletes from competing in the Games. She confides in a handsome English journalist, Richard Denham, and they become embroiled in two plots: 1) Hitler’s pressure on German fencer, Hannah Leibermann, a Jew who is forced to compete to protect her family; and 2) the Nazis believe Denham has come into possession of a mysterious dossier that threatens the Third Reich and they will do anything to obtain it. Eleanor and Denham are a good team as they strive to outwit their enemies -- and several times she rescues him -- which is nice role reversal.
What I liked: Jesse Owens has some cameos, but I would have liked a little more about the actual competition, not to mention background on Eleanor’s swimming career. Will and Kate saw more of the 2012 Olympics than Eleanor, who is supposed to be a correspondent sending reports back to the U.S. However, the characters are vivid, the plot and setting original, and the action fast paced. I especially appreciated the depiction of the American Ambassador and his family. I really enjoyed this debut thriller and recommend it to fans of suspense and historical fiction.
What I disliked: Eleanor is married to a popular band leader in NY (based on Art Jarrett) who is clearly a jerk. However, she sure fell out of love with him quickly and into love with Denham. The romance worked as a plot device but was somewhat improbable. Also, surely it would have been very embarrassing for a U.S. Senator’s famous, married daughter to live in sin in London? In addition, Eleanor’s speech pattern was a little too “ah shucks” for my taste; whether realistic or not, I cannot tell. Brits can’t always write American characters convincingly.

Source: I am a huge Olympics fan, so I was eager to read this book once I read about it. HarperCollins provided me with an advance reading copy.

1 comment:

BrunhildeCrow said...

This looks fantastic! Thanks for posting, I just ordered it...