Visible Empire

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

This uses a real historical tragedy as a starting point for a novel about people who are coping with its aftereffects. I'm not sure why I didn't connect with this- it's well written and I've liked Pittard before.  Robert and Lily, the main characters, have separate painful connections to the crash victims.  The story revolves mostly around them but there are others as well, notably Piedmont Hobbs.  1962 Atlanta is a far different place from 2018 Atlanta.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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Hannah Pittard does it once again! Her writing is a work of art.  She transports and educates the reader through the compelling story and characters.  I knew nothing about the Orly tragedy prior to this and have since discussed the book and history with all.  Will share on all platforms and with bookclub bookgroups as my #fridayreads.  Bravo Hannah!
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Visible Empire is sure to be a favorite of 2018. Just light enough to accompany you to the beach, it will give you plenty to think through until the weather cools down. This is a book that will linger.
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Hannah Pittard's Visible Empire is a fictionalized account of a real airplane crash that occurred in 1962, affecting the city of Atlanta as 120 citizens from the city - namely people in the arts world - died in the crash as they were returning from a trip to Paris.. The story is told from multiple points of view, including Robert's and Lily's, a married couple who have lost a mistress and parents (respectively) in the crash. Robert loses his ever-loving mind and goes on a bender, leaving his pregnant wife. who learns that she is penniless as well as alone. Other characters bring to light the issues of the South in this era, including Piedmont, a young Black man whose path crosses Lily's. There are also characters reminiscent of characters in The Great Gatsby - looking only to benefit from wealth or the acquisition of wealth. 

Pittard has an interesting concept here and the story moves fluidly. An enjoyable read.

Thanks to NetGalley for the free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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As a native Atlantan transplanted to Northern California as an adult, I was eager to read "Visible Empire" set  in Atlanta, GA in the immediate aftermath of the Orly airplane crash which tragically killed many local arts patrons in 1962.   I was twelve years old when this event occurred and vividly recall my horror at the many children orphaned by this event as well as the beautiful Rodin sculpture gifted by the city of Paris to the city of Atlanta for its High Museum of Art.   

Hannah Pittard did a good job setting the scene for her novel with accurate portrayals of the large southern homes of her characters and a realistic picture of the emotions felt by survivors.  However, the characters and plot of this novel were more like a soap opera than the historical fiction narrative I expected.  Important issues of segregation, Civil Rights, economic and social class, and family are touched upon, but none are examined with any depth, and most of the characters seemed self-centered and superficial.  I'm grateful to Net Galley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book, but disappointed that it did not live up to my expectations.
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An eye-opening, fictionalized view of a tragedy I previously knew nothing about.  Very well-written with characters evolving while remaining true to themselves throughout.  Individual responses to the tragedy - whether each person was directly or indirectly impacted - were deeply contextualized which made the interwoven stories rich and complex, but incredibly believable and meaningful.  Though she had a seemingly minor role, Lulu (the beleaguered mayor’s wife) was my absolutely favorite character - and the most wise.
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When I began reading, I didn't think i would like it, but this one you have to stick with til the end! It reminded me of what really matters as it did the cast of people in the book. Good one!
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There have been several instances where tragedy has struck a town in the form of a plane crash killing significant numbers of residents, Atlanta in 1962 being just one.  The event is used as the source of the tale, which follows the literary theme that from tragedy, loss, and adversity come rebirth and positive revitalization.   The story relates specific survivors responses, chapter by chapter, their reactions to the event, and subsequent coping and finally how they possibly will move beyond their loss, continuing life.  It moves along quickly, jumping to a different character about the time interest wanes.  None of the characters are, in my opinion, sympathetic; rather of a social and economic strata that makes relating to them difficult.  This is interspersed with the introduction of the then current civil-rights issues and their effects on the characters.  In short, an interesting read, not profound, moves along well, possibly written as a script for television drama.
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Did not have a chance to read this book.  Will possibly read it at a later date
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Unfortunately, I never really connected with this story. The writing was good, but the plot was a little lacking as were the characters. I liked the premise, but all in all, it just wasn't for me.
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Could not finish. Tried several times, and the book just never held my interest. Very disjointed.
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Over 100 art lovers, patrons, and journalists from Atlanta, Georgia have been killed in the horrific crash of Air France at Orly. Leaving behind family and friends to grieve. 

Told from multiple points of view, we follow Robert and his wife Lily. Robert has been a very bad boy and has just told Lily about his affair with a fellow reporter and has been promptly kicked to the curb. Lily is end the last stages of pregnancy when she finds out the next day that she has lost her parents in the crash as well. 

The 1960's in Atlanta were a tense time. Racial lines had been drawn and to cross over them meant certain death. But young black men are tired of waiting for things to change and some take to violence.

Their are all kinds of people taking advantage of the tragedy of the crash. From the young to the old enough to know better. 

We hear the story of the Mayor trying his best to help, but I'm still not sure what was up with the wife.

Others who have found themselves suddenly wealthy are getting drunk and high and spinning quickly out of control and you just feel the tension in the air around each character. Tragedy has a way of changing a person but whether it is for the better is not a foregone conclusion.

This was a bit wordy for me. I thought Lily and Piedmont's characters were the strongest and most honest. The rest of them were like vultures circling roadkill. Not a pretty sight. And as for the ending, I'm not sure what that was.

Being born and raised in Georgia I had read about this event in school. It was shocking and changed a lot of lives forever.

Try it for yourself and let me know what you thought!

Netgalley/une 5th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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This book is based on a historical event occurring in the 60s. A majority of the elite of Atlanta’s cultural community are killed when their jet crashes returning home from Paris, and a city spirals down into uncontrollable grief and disbelief. 

This a story of the survivors left to pick up the pieces of their losses, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, siblings, friends....all taken so quickly. How do they cope and what secrets come to life?  Everything is up in the air. 

I liked this book but I would not put it at the top of my to-read list.
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A bit of a disappointment from Hannah Pittard, whose novels I have loved in the past. This one was a bit confusing and hard to follow. Too many characters and too many points of view.
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I didn’t hate this book but I didn’t really like it either … it really was just “okay” for me.
Visible Empire is about many different things. It is about how the crash of Air France Flight 007 in June of 1962 affected the lives of surviving family members and loved ones. It is about old southern money. It is about the racial climate of the south in 1962. It is also about covert gay lifestyles in 1962. That is A LOT to fit into less than 300 pages!

Pittard created a cast of interesting characters and the plane crash was an intriguing premise with which to expand on and create a story from.

However, there was so much going on in this story that there wasn’t nearly enough time spent on each idea and many of the subplots were underdeveloped. Many of the plot points felt forced and were difficult to get behind. When this happens early on in the book, which was the case in this novel, I find that, as the reader, I am far less forgiving when it comes to coincidences and other, more minor, conveniences in the plot.

I’m sorry to say that I would not recommend this one to my reading friends.

Thank you, NetGalley, for the opportunity to read this book and provide an honest review
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This is one book I could not finish. I remember when the tragedy portrayed happened, and I expected something completely different.
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I had no knowledge or recollection of the tragic airplane crash that was the starting point for this compelling historical novel.  We are becoming so inured to massive tragedy that we may not take time to think about its effect on a community--this book made me think, made me remember, made me look at all the loss that our society has endured (through terrorism, through accidents, through war . .  )

But, the book was not just about loss, and grief--it was about coping with what's left. With life.  I was engaged in Hannah Pittard's story from page one---and was intrigued by her characters because of their imperfections.
She has written a very compelling and readable novel, but also one that has heart and has a message. The message will not be the same for everyone, but there is substance beneath the tragedy in this book.
I loved it.
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ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Could not finish this.  A promising start but I lost interest fast.
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I got through about one third of this and had to stop. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and it was very slow moving . Once the first chapter was over and the rest of the characters were introduced one by one I slowly began to lose interest, Did not finish.
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Wow - history I never knew.  Stories I never would have known.  This book is heartbreaking, heart-healing and a very good reason to take an 'afternoon off' just so you can read.  Really interesting read, I love books that keep ruminating around in my head long after I've finished.  This is one of those books.
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