Monday, 9 March 2015
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
A story of survival, subterfuge, espionage and identity.
Rhoda and Delia are American stunt pilots who perform daring aerobatics to appreciative audiences. But while the sight of two girls wingwalking – one white, one black – is a welcome novelty in some parts of the USA, it’s an anathema in others. Rhoda and Delia dream of living in a world where neither gender nor ethnicity determines their life. When Delia is killed in a tragic accident, Rhoda is determined to make that dream come true. She moves to Ethiopia with her daughter, Em, and Delia’s son, Teo.
Em and Teo have adapted to scratching a living in a strange land, and feel at home here; but their parents’ legacy of flight and the ability to pilot a plane places them in an elite circle of people watched carefully by the Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie, who dreams of creating an air force for his fledgling nation. As Italy prepares for its invasion of Ethiopia, Em and Teo find themselves inextricably entangled in the crisis — and they are called on to help.
I love really awesome historical fiction but equally can be incredibly critical if I think a book doesn't do justice to the time period it is set in. With Elizabeth Wein I always know I am in for a treat and that the history is going to be spot on so I was delighted to have the opportunity in February half term to meet her and get a copy of this book.
I particularly love history set during this time period and I love finding out more about it. This book added to what little I knew about Abyssinia in the interwar years and I found myself utterly fascinated as it filled in another piece in the puzzle in my knowledge of what was going on during those years as I pretty much only knew the area was invaded by the Italians at some point.
I loved the main characters and their story. The detail included made them feel real and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all those things that Elizabeth had mentioned when talking about her research for the book and the things she had drawn from her own life and people she had met when writing it.
All in all a prime example of how historical fiction should be done. Definitely worth a look.