I won this book as part of a First Reads Giveaway on Goodreads.I knew absolutely nothing about Jean Batten prior to reading this novel but afterwards I feel like I know her better than half of my close friends The writing style is very accessible especially in respect of some of theboring sections of the book dealing with aeroplanes At least boring to me I amof a car girl but I am sure plenty of people would prefer aeroplanes At times I hated Jean and at other times I loved her This I think is a reflection of good writing you should never have a main character who is wholly perfect with no flaws at all It does not generally make for good or believable reading Jean at times was a nasty piece of work and it made the story better andrealistic.The novel is well paced and does not feel overlong at any point Good characterisation throughout and not too many characters that you start feeling a bit over run by them.I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others. I really enjoyed this fictional version of the life of New Zealander, Jean Batten who was a pioneering aviator.I think the book was originally published in 2013, but through Netgalley and Aardvark Bureau, I was given the chance to read a forthcoming UK edition in exchange for an honest review.There are many detailed reviews which chart the details about the novel, so I will not try to repeat what has been written before.The author, Fiona Kidman has created a beautifully written story which captures the life of Jean Batten and her family and associates.I found myself drawn into the real history behind the book and it seems that is very well researched The bibliography at the end along with the Internet has meant that I have been drawn into this fascinating era of the pioneers of early aviation.There were stages when I felt sorrow and respect for the central character However there were also parts of the story when I disliked the person It is for this reason that I think that it is a well written narrative.I will remember this book for the insight it offers into the social and gender issues which prevailed during this era in history I particularly liked the way the story explored the effects of the depression on those living in New Zealand.I will certainly look out for other works by this author. Kidman Couldn T Produce A Poor Paragraph If She Tried To And This Is A Narrative That I Have To Say It Takes Wing New Zealand HeraldThe Rise And Fall Of The Garbo Of The Skies , As Told By One Of New Zealand S Finest NovelistsJean Batten Became An International Icon In S A Brave, Beautiful Woman, She Made A Number Of Heroic Solo Flights Across The World The Newspapers Couldn T Get Enough Of HerIn , She Broke Amy Johnson S Flight Time Between England And Australia By Six Days The Following Year, She Was The First Woman To Make The Return Flight In , She Made The First Ever Direct Flight Between England And New Zealand And Then The Fastest Ever Trans Tasman Flight Jean Batten Stood For Adventure, Daring, Exploration And GlamourThe Second World War Ended Jean S Flying Adventures She Suddenly Slipped Out Of View, Disappearing To The Caribbean With Her Mother And Eventually Dying In Majorca, Buried In A Pauper S Grave Fiona Kidman S Enthralling Novel Delves Into The Life Of This Enigmatic Woman It Is A Fascinating Exploration Of Early Aviation, Of Fame, And Of SecrecyFiona Kidman Is A Dame And An OBE For Her Services To New Zealand Literature This novel about Jean Batten is an exploration of the pioneering New Zealand aviator and her life Fiona Kidman s writing flows seemingly effortlessly, making it easy to read, and is a fine example of a skilled writer who uses her craft to best advantage The language is authentic of the period, and there is a good balance between dialogue, action and description The author portrays Jean Batten sympathetically, while remaining true to the attitudes of the time about gender, race and class Batten s will to succeed at flying is tremendous she s a true Kiwi heroine and role model I knew next to nothing about her before reading the book now I ve been enlightened about her life through this engaging story. Really enjoyed this Audio book the telling of the life story of Jean Batten, a New Zealand pilot who succeeded in both achieving and breaking solo flying records in the 1930 s and 40 s, before the onset of war put an end to her career..Although a non Fiction biography, which has obviously been well researched, I was impressed with the writing style which came acrosslike a work of fiction and didn t get bogged down with too many finite facts of her life..It was lovely to learn about a female pilot I had not heard of before the Garbo of the Skies..Her elder brother was actor John Batten, see IMBD, who ended his days in Colchester, Essex a bit of local history for me to research.. To my shame I knew little about Jean Batten, New Zealand s most celebrated aviatrix from the early days of flying This excellent novel from acclaimed NZ author Fiona Kidman is a wonderfully compelling fictionalized biography, meticulously researched, accurate as far as I can tell, anyway and fleshed out by Kidman s imagination to reveal an intriguing and sometimes controversial character and her unusual life Jean Batten s achievements as an aviatrix are quite astonishing, as is her determination to succeed The flying episodes are particularly well described, ratcheting up the tension and allowing the reader to feel part of the experience I also very much enjoyed the cameo appearances by some of the people Jean Batten met from Noel Coward to Ian Fleming, the then Prince of Wales to Winston Churchill It was an endlessly fascinating life and this is an endlessly fascinating and supremely well written novel. Fiona Kidman s The Infinite Air, however, is a most interesting novel By fictionalising the exploits of Jean Batten, New Zealand s record breaking aviatrix, she has created a captivating novel which if Wikipedia and the bibliography at the back of the book are anything to go by is a faithful account of Batten s life She was an extraordinary woman, who transcended a difficult upbringing to achieve an ambition that was fostered from infancy by her mother, who pinned a newspaper clipping of Louise Bleriot and his monoplane above her cot.Flying in its early days was an expensive enterprise, and Batten had no money Her parents separated due to her father s constant infidelities, and she and her mother lived in straightened circumstances for most of her career Her father paid for her education, and was keen for her to take up a career as a concert pianist, but when he found out that Jean was having flying lessons instead of music tuition in England he withdrew her allowance Jean s mother Nellie, however, was indomitable, and Jean s ambitions knew no bounds, and their enduring partnership was destined to succeed.In the pursuit of her ambition, Batten exploited her friendships with men She was as you can see from the photo at Wikipedia , a very attractive young woman, and she had a great sense of style To get the money for flying lessons, flying time, buying planes and repairing them, she became engaged to a number of men when she had no feeling for them, took vast sums of money from them, and ditched them when she no longer needed them Her real love, apart from one ill fated romance, was her mother, and when her flying career was over, they lived together, mostly in Spain, until Nellie died.To read the rest of my review please visit This was my first chance to try out NetGalley, and what a book to begin with The Infinite Air is the story of aviatrix Jean Batten, who broke records as a woman pilot in the 1930 s Her life of struggle, both financially and in the male dominated world of aviation, is beautifully told by the talented Fiona Kidman Batten s life is chronicled from her difficult upbringing through the challenges of obtaining her pilot s license, speckled with humor, and will have you biting your nails as she attempts to break the women s record for fastest flight from England to Australia This is the first book of Kidman s that I ve read, and her writing is so vivid that I swear I could feel grit in my teeth as Batten sputtered through the dusty outback The beginning of the book was slow, and although it is chronicled on Batten s life story, I felt the early years could have been condensed This was almost a book I decided to give up on because it started out so slow and seemingly pointless when I knew the book was supposed to be about a pilot, but I really wanted to get to the meat of the story before I made my decision, hence the 4 out of 5 star review. The Infinite Air is a novel that brings together much that is known about the international aviation legend Jean Batten and through research, letters, radio excerpts brings her character and personality to life, in aunderstanding and compassionate way than some of thejudgemental depictions of her in the past, views that hastened to depict her as a gold digger, due to her adept success at raising the necessary funds to support her desire to break long haul aviation records.She was New Zealand s most famous aviator, celebrated around the world in the 1930 s, as she attempted record breaking solo flights from England to Australia and back, one of the few who survived such daring escapades, though sadly she would die in relative obscurity in Majorca, Spain buried in a pauper s grave, without anyone from her native New Zealand, aware of the loss of this great female legend.Fiona Kidman brings the story back to Jean Batten s birth in Rotorua, New Zealand in September 1909 and the symbolic reference and future inspiration of a photograph her mother pinned above her cot in 1910 of the French aviator, Louis Bl riot, the first man to fly the English Channel It was an image lodged early in her young mind and the seed of a passion that would consume her totally as a young adult.Jean Batten was the only daughter of the family with two older brothers, one she was close to in childhood, though the disintegration of the family, when her mother could no longer support her husband s infidelities, created a distance between between the siblings as well as the parents She would eventually lose contact with her family and country except the constant companion and guidance of her mother when she moved permanently to live in Europe.As a child and a young adult she did well in school and was passionate about dance and played classical piano Although her mother had financial difficulties after separating from her husband, she did her best to keep her daughter in a good school and to pursue those interests Jean excelled at all activities but there was only one that she dreamed of to the point of obsession and would become her sole purpose for the short period she was able to pursue it.She was on her way to becoming a successful concert pianist a career her father supported , though she nurtured that flame of interest in aviation, when her true passion was ignited by news of Charles Lindbergh s solo non stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean In 1929, she travelled with her mother to Australia and met, flew with and developed a friendship with the aviator Charles Kingsford Smith From that moment on she became obsessed with wanting to fly and create world records, encouraged by her mother.In early 1930, she sold her piano to fund a passage to England where she joined a London Aeroplane Club, obtained her pilot s licence and set about quickly to challenge the record for a solo flight from England to Australia, first set by the English pilot Amy Johnson She made friends and attracted suitors at the Club and through her connections, managed to acquire herself an aircraft, an astonishing feat given how she and her mother struggled to maintain the social status they aspired towards They were not wealthy, they were equally determined and driven by Jean s ambition to succeed.Jean Batten was renowned for her navigation skills and was a confident flyer, something that might be said about most aviators attempting solo records at the time, they had to prepare well, and to be prepared to take great risks to fly with the knowledge that if anything went wrong, death or luck were the likely outcomes In flying I found the two things that meant everything to me the intoxicating drug of speed and the freedom to roam the earth I knew I was destined to be a wanderer Jean Batten, Narration from Batten s unpublished memoirsIn her first two attempts at the record Batten got into trouble The first flight she became caught in a sandstorm over the desert in Iraq, landed and slept under the wing She continued on but experienced engine failure and crash landed near Karachi, wrecking the plane.Her next attempt, after obtaining the sponsorship of Charles Wakefield of Castrol Oil, who funded a second hand gypsy moth, after landing in Marseille to refuel she was warned not to continue due to the weather, but was determined to continue, the authorities refused to help her start the engine, then forbade her to depart without signing an indemnity making her fully responsible for the consequences.It was an attitude she became used to confronting she didn t hesitate to sign it and took off into the headwind of a blustery storm with limited visibility, heading for Rome Her engine spluttering, out of fuel, she was preparing to crash in the sea when the lights of the city appeared, enabling her to navigate her way to a semi successful crash landing, one that clipped her wings which would require replacing and in ten days she was back in England setting off for her third and ultimately successful attempt.Dame Fiona Kidman, the New Zealand author ofthan 20 novels has chosen to fictionlise the story of Jean Batten s life, in order to bring outof her character and the early years of her life that contributed to her passion For a young woman who did not come from a wealthy family, who was not married, though she was engaged a few times, her successes were and extraordinary accomplishment, that were marred only by the onset of World War 2 when her plane was confiscated and perhaps evenso by certain tragedies that touched her life and dramatically altered its course.The novel pays a fitting tribute to this lost heroine of the skies and sees past that driven aspect of her character that is too often portrayed as a negative characteristic in a woman, particularly of that era she lived in.Every flyer who ventures across oceans to distant lands is a potential explorer in his or her breast burns the same fire that urged the adventurers of old to set forth in their sailing ships for foreign lands Riding through the air on silver wings instead of sailing the seas with white wings, he must steer his own course, for the air is uncharted, and he must therefore explore for himself the strange eddies and currents of the ever changing sky in its many moods.Jean Batten When Jean Batten is a young girl she only has one wish, she wants to fly That thought never leaves her, when she s older she still wants to be able to control a plane and be in the air Together with her mother she chases her dream She meets many different people and travels a lot When she finally has the chance to fly it s time to set records Jean Batten has a promising career until the Second World War ends what she loves the most Jean Batten is a talented woman who can do whatever she wants She can sing, dance, play the piano and is good at every subject at school She can do anything she sets her mind to Her mother is her biggest support She manages the finances and she makes sure there s enough money for Jean s flying lessons Jean has a chance to enter the world of flying and to break records, to own a plane and to fly whenever she wants and wherever she wants.The Infinite Air is a beautiful story about the life of Jean Batten Jean is gifted and she s determined She s a remarkable person She s pretty, she s smart and she s impressive I loved reading about her life and the drive she has to make her biggest wish come true She doesn t have an easy life, it s filled with loss and bad luck as well as great achievements and huge popularity It s a life of extremes and that fascinated me from the start.Fiona Kidman has a wonderful writing style Her sentences are beautiful and she has a vivid way of describing things I felt Jean s freedom, her frustration, her elation and her sadness Jean Batten is a special woman and Fiona Kidman manages to show her readers in detail what she s like and what kind of life she leads I loved that approach Jean is a private person, but because of this book it s possible to get closer to her, to see who she is inside, which is really interesting and enjoyable I couldn t put this novel away, it gripped me from the start Fiona Kidman has written a fantastic book about a legendary woman.
Fiona Kidman is a leading contemporary novelist, short story writer and poet Much of her fiction is focused on how outsiders navigate their way in narrowly conformist society She has published a large and exciting range of fiction and poetry, and has worked as a librarian, producer and critic Kidman has won numerous awards, and she has been the recipient of fellowships, grants and other signifi
- 352 pages
- The Infinite Air
- Fiona Kidman
- 04 April 2017 Fiona Kidman