Crossing the Horizon
This intricate novel details the lives of three aviatrixes in 1927, all vying to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Charles Lindbergh has just made his name, and Amelia Earhart isn’t quite in the headlines yet. Instead, Elise Mackay, Mabel Boll, and Ruth Elder are all eager to follow in his footsteps. The three women couldn’t be more different – Elise is the daughter of a British earl, going against her family’s wishes as she takes to the sky. Mabel is a glamourous, slightly spoiled socialite who becomes volatile and drunk when things don’t go her way (which is often). Ruth, a beauty pageant winner, takes her winnings and learns to fly, becoming “Miss America of aviation.”
Notaro switches back and forth during chapters to detail each of these three women’s stories. Readers become deeply involved in the struggles, small victories, and devastating losses of all three. It’s no easy task, as each woman faces the difficulties of finding a pilot, raising funds, getting a plane, waiting for the right weather, attempting the journey, and doing it first.
Notaro does an excellent job providing insight into what it must have been like for these women during this time. She has interwoven real newspaper articles, photographs, and interviews along with her imagination to relay the stories of these three remarkable women. The Author’s Note details what happens to each character, since the story ends in 1928. The flow is a bit slow, only because there is so much history and detail. Overall, this is quite the read. Highly recommended.