A superbly written novel offering an intriguing interpretation of one of the world’s greatest aviators, the glamorous and mysterious Jean Batten.
Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave.
Fiona Kidman’s enthralling novel delves into the life of this enigmatic woman, exploring mysteries and crafting a fascinating exploration of early flying, of mothers and daughters, and of fame and secrecy.
About the Author
Fiona Kidman has published over 25 books, including novels, poetry, non-fiction and a play. She has worked as a librarian, creative writing teacher, radio producer and critic, and as a scriptwriter for radio, television and film, but primarily as a writer. The New Zealand Listener wrote: ‘In her craft and her storytelling and in her compassionate gutsy tough expression of female experience, she is the best we have.’
She has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships; in more recent years The Captive Wife was runner-up for the Deutz Medal for Fiction and was joint-winner of the Readers’ Choice Award in the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and her short story collection The Trouble With Fire was shortlisted for both the NZ Post Book Awards and the Frank O’Connor Award.
She was created a Dame (DNZM) in 1998 in recognition of her contribution to literature, and more recently a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour. ‘We cannot talk about writing in New Zealand without acknowledging her,’ wrote New Zealand Books. ‘Kidman’s accessible prose and the way she shows (mainly) women grappling to escape from restricting social pressures has guaranteed her a permanent place in our fiction.’
We were impressed by Kidman’s weaving together of three important strands: the historical aspect in the exploration of early flying, the relationship aspect with ties between mothers and daughters, and the very timely issue of celebrity and secrecy. All this and finely crafted storytelling!