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Wingwalkers

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Taylor Brown isa wonderful author whose story telling never fails to sweep me away.This books characters daredevils a pilot and his wing walking wife flying across America performing during the depression a real enjoyable adventure.#netgalley #st.Martins press
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Taylor Brown is one of my favorite authors. His "Gods of Howl Mountain" and "River of Kings" were masterful. He can spin a phrase better than most, and write so vividly that you feel like you are there. Unfortunately, this particular book just did not do it for me. While the writing is, as always, outstanding, I just could not maintain interest in the plot. I made it through, but it was a struggle. I have found this before with Brown's books. His "Pride of Eden" was another book that I had difficulty engaging with. But....I will continue to read anything he puts out, on the chance that it rises to the level of the two previously mentioned books. And, in his defense, is it not better to have an author branch out to completely different type plots, than to write the same old book, over and over again, with just a few plot differences? I think so!
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As a participant in a book group focusing on southern literature, I am probably one of the few members who do not have a deep, abiding passion for the works of William Faulkner. Lord knows I’ve tried. I’ve read Collected Stories of William Faulkner, and he collected a lot of them and a couple of his novels (I won’t say which since this review isn’t about Faulkner’s books) and determined that Uncle Billy will never be my favorite author. That said, I do understand that, with all his run-on sentences and rampant abuse of pronouns, he was able to put his finger on the pulse of Americans in his time and place with unparalleled precision. He also loved flying.

But this isn’t a review of a Faulkner book. It’s a review of a book by an author whose books I find a lot more enjoyable. Taylor Brown has published five novels and a short story collection, all set in the American South. He also loves flying.

Wingwalkers is really two stories in one, weaving their way relentlessly to a common end like planes in a dogfight, alternating focus from one chapter to the next in a way that would have made Melville proud. First is the largely biographical story of Faulkner and his three brothers’ fascination with flight, starting from 1908 when a Balloonitic crashed into their father’s chicken coop.

The rest of the book tells the story of Zeno Marigold, a Great War flying ace, and his wing-walking wife, Della, aka the Daring Devilette, and their Scottish terrier Sark, who travel about the South in a battered biplane hoping to scrounge enough cash to buy gas to make it to the next town. It’s not a glorious life, but it does give them a sense of freedom and a bird’s-eye view of America during the Great Depression. If you have read Faulkner's stories, these characters may seem familiar. Either the story Honor is based on them or Wingwalkers is based on the story Honor. I’d like to think it’s the former but who can be sure?

Brown’s prose gets better with each book and his fascination with flight shines through on every page as the followingdescription of the barnstorming craze demonstrates.
They came storming across the country in the wake of the Armistice, a swarm of mayflies hatched in the aerodromes of France, featherlight fliers buzzing from field to field, town to town, looping and barreling in brainless mania , flying into trees and lakes and fields of cotton and corn, slamming into farmhouses and clocktowers, exploding before the heat-flared faces of the crowds. They died by fire, as they had in the war, or were ripped asunder in the violence of impact, goggled ex-aces who could find no way down from the high of combat save this. They traded enemy guns for hail and downpour, lightning and the crushing winds of anvil-shaped clouds. They died in legion, short-lived, while the cities roared, and when the country crashed, they flew only lower, faster, to draw their pennies from the crowds.


Bottom line: While not every book Brown has written hits it out of the park, enough do to keep me coming back. Wingwalkers takes its readers on a journey back to a challenging time in our country’s history and does it marvelously. I highly recommend this book.


*Quotations are cited from an advanced reading copy and may not be the same as appears in the final published edition. The review was based on an advanced reading copy obtained at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. While this does take any ‘not worth what I paid for it’ statements out of my review, it otherwise has no impact on the content of my review.

FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
*1 Star – The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire.
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I’ve enjoyed Taylor Brown in the past, but this one didn’t quite hit for me. This is more historical romance than literary fiction, I think (in spite of the Faulkner references).
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The South is a destination I’d only consider literary and even then, not always. And yet there was something about this book that spoke to me. The impossible daredevilish freedom of its characters, their wild disregard for gravity and insistence at defying it, defying the odds.
    Wingwalkers, barnstormers, the early aviators of the 1900s, were a breed onto themselves. Some people, it seems, have waited so long to take flight and once such a possibility presented itself, they simply were unable to resist it. Such was the case for the Falkner boys, the oldest of whom, Bill, would grow up to add a U to his name and become a giant of Southern literature. Although, somewhat ironically, in real life a man was so short in stature that he had to lie, beg and plead to get into the air force. 
    Not being a huge fan of The South, I’ve actually never read Faulkner, but now I can say I read a lot about him, he’s one of the major characters here and the novel uses a lot of biographical information to present a life that was larger and stranger than fiction.
     The other two protagonists are a couple madly in love, he’s a war veteran and an aviator, she a much younger woman who joins him on his adventures falling in love with both him and the flight itself. Della dreams of going west, being in the movies, doing stunts, but Zeno is reluctant to venture out that far and odds are their old beat-up place won’t make it that far either. So, they are flying around the south along with their adorably pup Sark in his own pair of aviator goggles, entertaining the locals for pittance, until the famous exposition with flying stunts that seems to be a catalyst for their relationship, while also presenting their possibly one and only chance at getting enough money to buy their own plane.
   It is there that they meet Faulkner. Quite late in the story. Otherwise, the two narratives travel on separate paths, united mainly by their passion for flying.
    It’s a lovely story, a lovely work of literary fiction. Every so often there’s just a turn pf phrase that makes you go, wow, that’s how it’s done. The characters are terrific, likable, charming, engaging. And from a historical fiction perspective, the novel does an excellent and credible job of representing depression-era America at its dustiest and daring. Great book. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
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Brown's novel sweeps across a canvas of the skies of the Great Depression and the new age of flight. This tale of lovers of flight weaves two stories into one, as fictional barnstormers briefly connect southern author William Faulkner. The prose is lyrical; the tale both informative and enticing.
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This is truly an amazing book based on the encounter of William Faulkner and two barnstormers, Zeno and Della. It’s two stories that come together for a moment, yet both stories separately are captivating and fantastic. The language alone in this book is beautiful, the descriptions of places and people are so compelling I was able to clear “see” everything as I read. I felt the pain of Zeno, a war veteran who tries to drink away his memories. I fell in love with Della who risked her life for her man and the free life that he gave to her. I never knew how colorful Faulkner’s life was, and how his frustration at his failure to be a hero war pilot led him to write some of the greatest novels ever written, I’m sad to see it end
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My thanks to St. Martin's Press Publishing, as well as to NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of Wingwalkers.

I'm sorry.  I tried.  I really did.  The storyline just didn't grab me.  I went into this book believing it would be more about wing-walking and less about sex and men falling down drunk and snoring.  (Or to put it more gently, too much ROMANCE and IMBIBING.)  At 29% I gave up and DNF.oo much ROMANCE and IMBIBING.)  At 29% I gave up and DNF.

On the positive side, I loved Della the Daring!
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St. Martin's Press 😘 thank you for this approved eARC!
NetGalley thank you as well!.

This story grips you right from the start, and before I knew it.... I was more than half way through!
Brown writes so passionately and eloquently in this latest work. It really is amazing.
The descriptions are palpable. Interesting, wonderfully done.
The characters are remarkable.... Della and Zeno Marigold.....simply put outstanding!
It’s a memorable story, exciting, most exquisitely written, with glorious storytelling. This is the type of book that reminds me why I read!
I really enjoyed this story and now I'm looking into more of Taylor Browns books
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I tried to enjoy this book but unfortunately it just wasn't for me. I thought the author did a good job with descriptions and the historical setting though. The plotline itself didn't captivate me enough and I felt like it dragged.
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I tried to read this book several times but I just couldn’t get into it. There was no excitement and none of the characters appealed to me. The setting as also boring.  It sounded like it would be an appealing book but sadly it wasn’t.
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Each Taylor Brown novel is a unique piece of art. He has a gift for plucking the reader out of their chair and depositing them fully into the American landscape. Wingwalkers is no exception. The reader hears the thrum of biplane engines, smells the fields of the American South where barnstormers earn their living, and holds her breath as Della the Daring walks on the wings of the Jenny. 

There are two storylines that intertwine briefly then break apart again. The characters in each are brilliant, fully realized people. Della & Zeno have a love story for the ages and there’s a special treat for fans of William Faulkner. 

Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s, and NetGalley for this digital ARC, in exchange for my honest review. The opinions here are entirely my own.
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Another five-star read from Taylor Brown, WINGWALKERS is a well-crafted epic adventure story. The time period is conveyed beautifully and with such spirit and energy. The braided narrative is populated by complex, genuine characters and the plot moves along at a nice clip. Brown excels at incorporating period detail and a sense of history without overwhelming the reader. The love story angle is also nicely done.
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Publication date: April 19, 2022

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

A former WWI ace pilot and his wing walker wife barnstorm across Depression-era America, performing acts of aerial daring.

“They were over Georgia somewhere, another nameless hamlet whose dusty streets lay flocked and trembling with the pink handbills they’d rained from the sky that morning, the ones that announced the coming of DELLA THE DARING DEVILETTE, who would DEFY THE HEAVENS, shining like a DAYTIME STAR, a WING-WALKING WONDER borne upon the wings of CAPTAIN ZENO MARIGOLD, a DOUBLE ACE of the GREAT WAR, who had ELEVEN AERIAL VICTORIES over the TRENCHES OF FRANCE.”

Wingwalkers is a one-part epic adventure, a one-part love story, and, as is the signature for critically-acclaimed author Taylor Brown, one large part of American history. The novel braids the adventures of Della and Zeno Marigold, a vagabond couple that funds their journey to the west coast in the middle of the Great Depression by performing death-defying aerial stunts from town to town, together with the life of the author (and thwarted fighter pilot) William Faulkner, whom the couple ultimately inspires during a dramatic air show—with unexpected consequences for all.

Brown has taken a tantalizing tidbit from Faulkner’s real-life—an evening's chance encounter with two daredevils in New Orleans—and set it aloft in this fabulous novel. With scintillating prose and an action-packed plot, he has captured the true essence of a bygone era and shed new light on the heart and motivations of one of America's greatest authors.

Call me crazy but I think that I have read this book before...not that there is anything wrong with that!   It was well written and a great mix of history and fiction - I will recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, book clubs, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames!


As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. ") on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🛩🛩🛩🛩🛩
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Well-researched novel provides outstanding settings into which totally-realistic characters live out thrilling lives in an important era of America’s past. Their spirit, their energy, and their determination kept America driving forward in a time where many could have given up.
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