Guy’s Angel

Guy’s Angel by LeeAnn Sontheimer Murphy is a love story. A man named Guy Richter falls in love with a young woman named Lorraine Ryan. But this love story is only possible because it’s also a love triangle. But not the usual kind of triangle, because the third party in this triangle isn’t a person–it’s the love of flying.

The year is 1925, and flying was still new. There was no TSA. Heck, there wasn’t even an FAA. Pilots weren’t licensed. Most pilots in the US were men who had been trained by the U.S. Army in World War I and managed to survive both the war and the influenza epidemic of 1919.

Automobiles were still in the process of driving horse-drawn vehicles off the road. Flying machines were a pretty chancy business.

And a lot of the pilots were suffering from what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They just called it shell-shock. Or not being able to get over the war. Or being crazy. Or having nightmares.

In 1925, “Lucky” Charles Lindbergh’s around the world flight hadn’t happened yet.

Guy Richter, the hero of Guy’s Angel, is one man who suffers from shell-shock and who has more than his share of difficulty leaving his war behind. He survived the air battles over Europe, only to lose his brother Jimmie in the peace. And Guy believes that he should have died.  He only lives to fly.

Until Lorraine comes to the airfield to learn to fly. And he sees her as his “Angel”.

In 1925, women did not become pilots. Amelia Earhart wasn’t famous yet. Or lost, for that matter. Women’s roles were proscribed. But Guy decides to rescue “Angel” from the taunting of the other men at the airfield, possibly out of boredom.

But once he takes her up into the sky, in his tiny two-seater plane, he can see that she is just as bitten by the flying bug as any man. And that she’s just as much a natural in the sky. Guy agrees to teach her to fly.

His “Angel” gives him a reason to look forward, and stop looking back. But can she learn enough, about flying and about Guy’s past, to save his life?

Escape Rating B+: There were elements in Guy’s Angel that I absolutely loved. The historical aspects were terrific. Ms. Murphy invoked the flavor of the 1920s spectacularly well. The pace of life, the way that people talked, the atmosphere, the clothes, it felt right.

The relationship between Guy and Angel proceeded just a tiny bit too smoothly. He had a LOT of demons. And he should have. The age gap between them, while not significant in actual numbers (7 years), because of his war experience was fairly large. It seemed too easy to me.

The question in my mind at the end was about whether everyone who said they saw the Valkyries really saw the Valkyries. And whether the Valkyries really were out to get Guy and carry him off to Valhalla. Because if they were, that almost pushed this book into a whole other category. If he merely thought they were, it’s still his PTSD talking. But so many other people also claimed to see them, which made me wonder.

 

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