Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Wein is the holder of a private pilot’s license and the owner of about a thousand maps. She is best known for her historical fiction about young women flying in World War II, including the New York Times bestselling Code Name Verity and Rose under Fire. Wein is also the author of Cobalt Squadron, a middle grade novel set in the Star Wars universe and connected to the 2017 release The Last Jedi.

Wein's newest book is A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I kept a reading log last year, and I read 72 books in 2018. If I hadn’t kept that record, I think I would have put the estimate at about 25, which just goes to show – I read a lot more than I think I do.

I live in Scotland, and one of my reading goals for last year was to read more Scottish authors. I began with the poetry of Norman MacCaig, whom I first encountered because my son was reading his work for school. I’m so glad I made the effort, as MacCaig quickly became one of my favorite new discoveries. His imagery is tied to the landscape and wildlife of Scotland, and he never ceases to surprise and delight me with new ways of looking at things. He’s also a little obsessed with nostalgia and the relentless passing of time, themes that resonate deeply in me.

…the clock’s voice plods on the mantelpiece
and a petal falls on the table.

The line of its fall is a fence
between the millions of years that have gone
and the millions to come.

(from “Foggy Night” by Norman MacCaig)

I liked MacCaig’s poetry so much that I have acquired a new collection to read in 2019!

Now I’m going to confess to an addiction: French comic books about World War II aviators. I eat them up like popcorn. I’m in the middle of a series called Angel Wings by my favorite graphic novel team, Yann (script writer) and Romain Hugault (illustrator and colorist). There seems to be a booming business in aviation comics in France, with a very masculine target audience. While these glossy large-format hardbacks are often a vehicle for showcasing burlesquely well-endowed young women in skimpy bikinis, along with vintage military equipment in eyewatering detail, Yann and Hugault manage to pack a boatload of plot and character into the package. Their stories also tend to feature women in strong roles (if you ignore the bikinis), often as pilots themselves, which I love. The fifth volume of Angel Wings came out in December 2018 and continues the wartime exploits of Angela McCloud, a young American WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot) and part-time OSS (Office of Strategic Services) agent, and I’m hoping Volume Six comes out sometime this year. Hugault has promised that Angela’s adventures will continue in Korea when World War II ends!

And speaking of books in series, I’ve nearly made it to Volume 5, All Change, of the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I’d just begun to read these wonderful novels when I last posted on this blog in April 2017. Volume 4, Casting Off, is finishing up with a satisfying flurry of romantic reunions, pairings, and separations which are all long overdue. It’s all bringing tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. As an ongoing reading project, the Cazalet novels are a bit like watching a soap opera or period costume drama series, only in book form. I’m enjoying them very much – but very slowly.
Visit Elizabeth Wein's website.

--Marshal Zeringue