Cover Image: Wingwalkers

Wingwalkers

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Member Reviews

I came to read Wingwalker because I read some positive comments from other readers. I haven’t read Taylor Brown before but the subject, barnstorming pilots and wingwalking women traveling the deep South during the middle of the Great Depression, coupled in some way with William Faulkner, was too intriguing to resist. I’m so very glad that I read this book.

In what the author assures is a work of fiction with pieces of fact, he writes an alternating narrative, beginning with Bill Falkner and his brothers in 1908 watching a balloonist in their home town, Oxford, Mississippi. Then we are introduced to Zeno and Della, pilot and wingwalker, also husband and wife, in Georgia in 1933. Over the span of the novel, the Falkner (soon to become Faulkner) narrative moves along in time to join our barnstormers in the 1930s. Along the way we see young Faulkner become a young man, fall in love, decide on a career, become absorbed with flight.

Meanwhile, we see the poverty in the country as Zeno and Della attempt to survive by selling rides on their airplane or get tips for their daring feats while the people who watch them scrape for coins to enjoy this new “luxury.”

All the while, Brown is writing in a style that evokes Mr. Faulkner at times in its dream-like presentation of this southern world, the descriptions of nature, the descriptions of the people on the land. As I read, I became more and more involved and enamored with this book. It struck chords deep inside and reminds me why I majored in English, why I signed up for a Southern American Lit class in college so many years ago. It’s nice to feel that enthusiasm again. I plan to read more of Brown’s work.

I do recommend this book to anyone interested in southern literature, Faulkner, the depression era, and early flight in the U.S. or who would just like a good story.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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<b>Brown's signature immersive details and wonderfully imagined, rich characters bring Depression-era scenes to life against an irresistible backdrop of swooping, soaring, daring aviation in <i>Wingwalkers.</i></b>
<blockquote>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.</blockquote>
What is it about aviation stories and my being so in love with them? 

In Taylor Brown's recently published historical fiction novel <i>Wingwalkers,</i> Zeno, a former World War I ace pilot, and Della, his daring wingwalking wife, travel Depression-era America, wowing audiences and inspiring hope in a dark, sober time.

Zeno and Della are vagabonds, putting on shows for small bills and change, scrambling to make enough to fuel their plane, feed their dog, and to hopefully have enough left over to eat meager meals, just enough to keep them going. They're daring, sometimes haunted, broken, in love, and irresistible to read about.

<blockquote>She wanted to rip the weights from his chest, the heavy stones he carried, blacked by the great fire of his heart.</blockquote>
Brown offers another parallel storyline tracking the frustrated would-be pilot and burgeoning author Bill (William) Faulkner, his three beloved brothers, his lost loves, his torment and motivation, and his struggles and successes. When the characters from the two rich stories that make up <i>Wingwalkers</i> briefly intersect, it's fantastic. 

<i>Wingwalkers</i> shines through immersive descriptions offered in signature Taylor Brown style, including glimpses of Depression-era America both from the sky and at close range; vivid moments placing these wonderfully wrought characters solidly in place and time; and various views of a broken landscape that perfectly mirrors the dashed dreams of so many during grim times. The Depression's dark effects on the country contrast dramatically with the majestic, gutsy aviation at the heart of the story, which boosts the stubborn hopes of those who allow themselves to be inspired.
<blockquote>"Stories," she said. Sometimes she could hardly believe her own. Sometimes she wondered if she held the threads of her own story or if there were another hand out there, unseen--god or author or fate--pulling the strings and banshee wires of their world. Or no one, only the wind. Sometimes she wondered if they were not haunted but haints themselves, turning endless circles over the land, performing the same acts over and over, replaying the same deaths--unable to move on.</blockquote>
<i>Wingwalkers</i> swoops and soars yet grounds the reader in wonderfully imagined (and researched) details that bring the story to life. I loved this book!

I received a prepublication digital edition of this book courtesy of St. Martin's Press and NetGalley.

Taylor is also the author of <a href="https://www.bossybookworm.com/post/review-of-the-gods-of-howl-mountain-by-taylor-brown/"><i>Gods of Howl Mountain,</a></i> a book I loved and gave five stars, <i>Pride of Eden</i> (a book still on my to-read list that looks wonderful), and <i>Fallen Land,</i> a title I loved and included in the Greedy Reading List <a href="https://www.bossybookworm.com/six-great-historical-fiction-stories-about-the-civil-war/">Six Great Historical Fiction Stories about the Civil War.</a> 

If you’re not on the Taylor Brown train yet, may I strongly suggest you join me?

<b>To see my full review on The Bossy Bookworm, or to find out about Bossy reviews and Greedy Reading Lists as soon as they're posted, please see <a href="https://www.bossybookworm.com/post/review-of-wingwalkers-by-taylor-brown/"><i>Wingwalkers.</a></i></b>

Find hundreds of reviews and lots of roundups of my favorite books on the blog: <a href="https://www.bossybookworm.com/"><b>Bossy Bookworm</a></b>
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I learned so much about Depression era, small town America from this book! Read about the death defying stunts  "Wingwalkers" did and their lives and romance. Especially good read if you like this time in American history.
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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.

On the positive side, I loved Della the Daring!
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Such a pretty cover. I love the colors and the view from the sky. But somehow, this story just never grabbed me. I think there was more partying and romance than storyline of the actual wingwalkers. I wanted to feel the pull of the characters and the wind in my hair. But I did enjoy the story, it was just not what I thought it would be.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.
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This was not what I expected and was very different from the last Taylor Brown book I read: Pride of Eden. An encounter by author William Faulkner with barnstorming couple in New Orleans is the basis for this new historical fiction title. There is a story line following Faulkner from his boyhood and aspiring pilot days as well as one for Della and Zino Marigold. Della wants to make it big in Hollywood, but the 1930's is a tough time to travel cross-country. Along with the nuggets from Faulkner's life are the slice of life moments from the Depression in the South and the exotic pull of New Orleans. A fascinating read.

Thank you to St. Martins Press and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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I was provided a free copy of this book from @netgalley in exchange for my honest review. 
This book is half fictionalized biography of William Faulkner, and half historical fiction about barnstormers (pilots who performed stunts and gave rides as a way of living). It was interesting learning about William Faulker's early years and his love of flying, which I knew nothing about. Although the chapters telling his story started to get a bit more cerebral as the story continued, which turned me off some. I haven't read any of his work, so it may have been trying to impersonate his writing style, assuming that's the way he thought as well. I enjoyed the chapters about Della and Zeno more. Their crazy lifestyle was hard to imagine, flying from place to place doing stunts and selling rides. 
This was an interesting story the whole way through, although I did struggle a bit with an overall purpose/connection. It was definitely a slice of life that we don't hear too much about, and is pretty different than life now. 
Luckily for you, this was published today! So if it sounds like something you would be interested in, go ahead and check it out from your favorite book spot! 
#NetGalley #Wingwalkers
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I enjoyed this dual perspective historical fiction book. A new to me author, this dual timeline story kept me entertained from start to finish. I loved getting an insight into the wingwalkers who flew around performing during the Great Depression. We also get to learn more about Enzo's past in flashbacks to his life during WWI. This was an original and thoroughly enjoyable read. Perfect for fans of The last dance on the Starlight pier or The four winds by Kristin Hannah. Much thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for my advance review copy!
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Real Rating: 3.5* of five, rounded up for the sonority of the sentences

As fictional Della and Zeno Marigold make their way through this story, on the way to meeting up with Billy Falkner, I came to appreciate the readerly stance one of my sisters expressed to me: "Leave famous people out of it. Just makes things harder to buy into."

The story Author Brown (<I>In the Season of Blood and Gold</i>, <I>Gods of Howl Mountain</i>) tells here uses the Marigolds and their barnstorming to illuminate a facet of William Faulkner (fancied-up Billy) that isn't much discussed: His fascination with aviation. It's beautifully written, glacially slow of pace, and not quite up to the task of convincing me that these two stories belonged together. If your reading led you to love <I>Last Dance on the Starlight Pier</i> for Depression stories, or <I>Cloud Cuckoo Land</i>'s multi-stranded take on intertwined fates told over time, then this book will get more stars from you than me. If you've grooved to <I>Sea of Tranquility</i> or <I>Unlikely Animals</i> for their gorgeously wrought images and smoothly set sentences, this book will give you happy hours.
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This book was a pleasant reading experience"… a love story of two unique souls, who actually loved flying more than each other, combined with a concurrent story of Billy Faulkner, whom we know as William Faulkner.  Set mostly in the 1930’s, I so appreciated the depictions of small town life which helped me understand the exuberance of townspeople wanting to have excitement in their lives.
Della and Zeno were the perfect partners, but my favorite character was Sark, the terrier who traveled with them.  
I love descriptive prose, but at times I felt like it weighed down the plot line and tampered with the flow of the storyline.  The meeting between Della, Zeno, and Faulkner was pure magic.  This is my second read in a row set in rural America during the depression.  Both have opened my eyes to what my grandparents actually lived through.  Love to read books that are so enjoyable yet educate me as well.
Many thanks to Taylor Brown, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for affording me the pleasure of reading an arc of this thought provoking book, to be published on 4-19.  Three and a half stars!
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Taylor Brown imagines the personal life of the wingwalker, a daredevil stunt in the aerial barnstorming shows of the 1920s. Della and Zeno Marigold are quite the uncommon wingwalking couple; sleeping under the stars, willing to risk death for a meal or gas, and both fond of their old dog Sark (who actually plays into your heart the most). Della is deeply in love with Zeno. Zeno is good to her but deeply in love with…alcohol. 
They rough and tumble across the South, with Della’s eventual goal being the West Coast. Meandering in completely unique patterns is the young boy Billy, growing up with his brothers in Mississippi. We flash back and forth between the two, and this may seem a bit confusing, but be patient and read on. 
Part fact, part fiction, but all truly reminiscent of an older, sadder era of the Great Depression, Taylor Brown brings us close to the people who survived the time, sitting around the campfire, drinking rotgut, with none of the common benefits of life we take for granted today. This is another thoroughly captivating and entertaining read by the modern master of Southern storytelling.
Sincere thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date is April 19, 2022.
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Once again, Taylor Brown writes an exquisitely descriptive novel of historical fiction, this time dealing with the early days of flight in the American south, where two young men who love to fly will eventually meet in New Orleans during Mardi Gras in 1934 at a celebrated flying festival. 

The entertainers: 'See Captain Zeno Marigold, double ace of the Great War! See Della the Daring Devilette, who defies death, walking on wing and wind!'

Then there's the young man from Oxford, Mississippi, William Faulkner: 'His imagination seems too big to be grounded, his ambitions too lofty for gravity. His mind seeks truth far larger than points of fact. Perhaps he'll find something true after all, scratching away with his pen.'

I was surprised to find the novelist Faulkner and his brothers in this novel, having previously known nothing about their interest in flight. I found that aspect of this story fascinating. 

Zeno and Della, the husband and wife team, seem so desperate to me in those early days of the Great Depression when they entertained to earn a few bucks just to eat and keep flying. They are the embodiment of the desire 'to live free or die!' Della always dreams of heading to California to try their luck, but Zeno just keeps them circling around the south.

I received an arc of this entertaining, character-driven novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity.
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Balancing life while on the ground while balancing life on the edge of a wing.........

Taylor Brown creates stories from so many aspects in this world. He takes us on horseback through Fallen Land during the Civil War and to North Carolina with bootleggers in Gods of Howl Mountain. We traveled with two brothers down Georgia's "Little Amazon" in The River of Kings and once again to the Georgia coast in Pride of Eden.

Brown's writing is filled with ribbons of atmospheric descriptors. He makes us feel and live what is at the core of his novels. It's simply human beings caught up and entangled in just the right spot at just the right time. Their stories reach us because of his light finger on the pulse of what constitutes good, evil, and everything inbetween.

We'll meet Della and Zeno Marigold. Zeno happens to be a World War I ace pilot with incredible time in the air under the most dire of circumstances. His wife Della is more the light-hearted spirit who feels alive when her feet aren't necessarily touching solid ground. It's now the Great Depression where livelihood is carved out of anything and everything. People were desperate for something that would take their eyes from life's current deadpan situations. Looking up featured a welcomed diversion even if it meant parting with precious pennies.

Taylor Brown switches gears and we come face-to-face with "Billy" who will later find success as one of the greatest American writers: William Faulkner. Della and Zeno will be drawing near as they arrive in New Orleans for one of their stunt air shows. Brown accomplishes his split storyline as he reaches back to these beginnings.

Wingwalkers is an engaging story. It is certainly well-written and laid out with the surprise element of Faulkner. But it's not my favorite of Taylor Brown's novels (and I've read them all). The thread of the William Faulkner storyline could have been a tremendous novel unto itself. I would gauge this one at 3.5 Stars kicked up to 4 Stars because of Brown's writing alone. Just say the name Taylor Brown and I'm there for the next one.......absolutely absolute.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to the talented Taylor Brown for the opportunity.
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I was really excited to receive a copy of this book as I've heard such great things about the Taylor Brown; but unfortunately, I just couldn't get into the book at all. I found that I could not relate to the characters and couldn't get into the story. I'm sure there are many others out there that will love this book though.

Thank you so much to the publisher and to Netgalley though for giving me the chance to read the book in advance.
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This storyline takes place from 1910 thru the 1930's and follows to groups of characters. The first involves Zeno Marigold who is a World War 1 flying ace and Della the Daring the Devilette who his wife and partner in the flying act. She is a wing walker . The fly all over the south and put on shows anywhere they can make a dime for food and for fuel. They also offer plane rides at a cost of 2 0r 3 cents a pound. They are both running from past Della from not having any more family or place to call home and Zeno dealing with the loss of his war  time buddies and the guilt that he was one to survive. Their ultimate goals his to head for California and be in the picture shows. The other story line is following the young boys of the Faulkner family, yes that Faulkner family that produced William Faulkner and their early desire to fly just like the Wright Brothers and the efforts they took to get them to flying and what led to William Faulkner being the author he was. Now this is a work of fiction and the author acknowledges this fact but many of Faulkner chapters are based on fact.  In my opinion the author does a great job bringing these two story lines along and as you will see eventually  bringing them together. This was a great read and kept my attention and it will of yours too. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martins Press for an ARC for a fair and honest review.
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I wanted to like this book, but I just didn't.  I never reached a point where I got pulled into the characters, and didn't feel there was much of a plot line.  Perhaps a reader who was interested in early flying, barnstorming and such would find it a better story though.  Thanks Netgalley  for the opportunity to read the ARC though.
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this was my first book by this author, this book has romance and adventure, will keep you on the edge of your seat.
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I really enjoy reading this author's books, he has such a great way with words. While I enjoyed his writing throughout, the story really picked up and had me on the edge of my seat for some parts in the later half. I loved the parts in New Orleans, so beautifully written and having been there, I can picture the scenes so wonderfully. I enjoyed the look into William Faulkner's life as well. Taylor Brown is definitely an auto-read author for me.
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This is  a dual plot line novel tracking the lives of William Faulkner and the daredevil couple Zeno and Marigold as they soar into the sky.  I wanted to like this but found it over written.  I know Brown has a huge fan base and appreciate that others enjoy his writing style but there are just so many words.  I opted to DNF at about the 40 percent mark.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A rare miss from me.
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’To my father, the pilot’

I’ve had a copy of Taylor Brown’s latest, Wingwalkers to read since last September, and have delayed reading it, not because I haven’t enjoyed his other books, but because he is one of my favourite authors who was writing about an era and a topic that is close to my heart.

When I was young I went to many of these events to see these ‘flying daredevils’ from a relatively safe perspective sitting on old wooden bleachers on the ground with my father. I didn’t know then that once upon a time my father had, albeit briefly, done some of these things, including being a wingwalker on at least one occasion that I only learned many years later, as well as some Aerobatics. My father’s first plane that he co-owned with some buddies was also a Curtis JN Jenny. Three years ago, I read a book about one of my father’s flying buddies which gave me more insight into how this came to be.

This story begins in 1908, in Oxford, Mississippi.

The town Square was filled with carnival tents, and included a snake charmer, a bearded lady, and the wild man from Borneo, whose ankle was shackled to a stake, while the three Falkner brothers were there for another event. They came to watch a man ascend to the heavens and to see for themselves if he would live or die.

This is really two stories that weave together in a story of the era, the people, the hardships of the time and the desire for a bigger life. A life that includes a romance with the sky and a love of the written word. An era where access to the world was suddenly easier and faster. An era that allows for the possibility of William Faulkner and Zeno and Della’s lives to intersect. Zeno, a pilot who flew a Curtis JN Jenny, and Della, a wingwalker.

To say that I loved this would be an understatement. I love the way that Taylor Brown writes, and this brought back so many wonderful memories for me in addition to being a fascinating and beautifully shared story. I loved how this wove Faulkner’s love of writing with his enchantment with flying - not just planes but also the passion for exploring the sky by other means, the balloonists, and barnstormers, while also sharing the financial pitfalls of the era, the anguish of barely eking out a living in desperate times, the vagabonds, the danger, as well as love. I loved the story of Della and Zeno, and how these two stories eventually merge into one when fate steps in.

A captivating story with heartstopping moments, lovely descriptions of views from above, another superbly written, enchanting story that made this era really come alive, and made my heart sing.


Pub Date: 19 Apr 2022

Many thanks for the ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press
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