I’ve just finished reading your novel, Letters to Amelia, a story in which you’ve so cleverly inserted so much information about Amelia Earhart. She’s a hero of mine, so your book felt special—and I admit that I zoomed through it as if I were on a flight across the country, reading it in a single afternoon.
The story you’ve created around the story of Amelia offers so many reflections of incidents in Earhart’s life, but with such grace, I can only admire your skill. And naming your main character Grace is just one of those gems I discovered. Amelia’s younger sister, always known as Pidge, had Grace as her given name. Another is the way your book contains 37 chapters, with ’37 being the year the famous pilot disappeared while nearing the end of her around-the-world flight with Fred Noonan.
Grace’s job as a special collections librarian is another stroke of creative brilliance. How else might she have been offered the opportunity to read that cache of loving letters Earhart penned to Gene Vidal? And from what I know of Earhart’s life, such correspondence with a lover was no stretch of the imagination, but very likely. She was forthright with her legal husband, George Putnam, stating that monogamy did not hold any great appeal for her—nor did she expect him to uphold their vows as sacred, though whether he did or not is less well-known.
You’ve captured so much of the spirit of Amelia in those letters. Not only does she express her love for Gene in them, but she also shares heartfelt memories both happy and sad, and even complains now and then, mainly about the hectic schedule she must keep, giving lectures across the country. Most lovely (and believable) are those passages in which she writes about the joy of flying, as in this, which I feel I must quote back to you, “You know what I miss most? That moment when you’re flying up through the middle of a cloud (whoever said they have silver linings has never flown through one) and then when you reach the top and hit the sunshine. Is there a more glorious moment?”
I’ll admit it’s hard to think that someone besides you might be reading this letter. And though I’d like to think such a discovery might lead them to read your book, it’s tricky to say very much here without giving away what I can only think of as spoilers. In fact, I’m glad I didn’t read the description on the back of the book before I opened it, as it would have ruined the major plot turn that’s revealed fully halfway through the book, the point at which Grace finally starts writing her own letters to Amelia.
It made me happy you gave Grace an opportunity to visit those places where Amelia had been in Newfoundland. Not only did it bring back wonderful memories of St John’s, but having her rent a car and then make side trips to Trepassey, Conception Bay and Harbour Grace allowed me to recall images of the roads and scenery there. The latter town especially reminded me of my own visits—how I paced out the rough terrain of the primitive airstrip where Amelia took off in her beloved Vega on her solo flight across the Atlantic, five years to the day after Charles Lindbergh made his historic trip.
Because I used to work as a librarian, it made me all the more admire the steps Grace takes in her ongoing research. From initially admitting that she knows almost nothing, she makes the rounds of Googled sites from Wikipedia through the History Channel. And despite my own years of learning about Earhart, I didn’t find much to quibble about in the accomplishments and events that Grace presents, even though some of those can only be based in imaginative speculation.
You’ve done a great job, not only in bringing Grace and her oh-so-real contemporary and complicated life to the page—all those texts, so many friendships, and that long-term romantic relationship at the heart of the book! Amazingly, you’ve also blended in a multi-dimensional account of the life of a woman who remains not only a feminist icon but a figure of undefined mystique. I’m sure Amelia herself would be pleased.
Best wishes from an admirer,
(Editor’s note: In 2017 Caitlin Press published Heidi Greco’s Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart. What some might call a novel in verse, it’s an imagined collection of works ‘by’ Earhart.)
Lindsay Zier-Vogel is a Toronto-based writer, arts educator and the creator of the internationally acclaimed Love Lettering Project. After studying contemporary dance, she received her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto. Her writing has been widely published in Canada and the U.K. Since 2001, she has been teaching creative writing workshops in schools and communities. Her hand-bound books are housed in the permanent collection at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto. As the creator of The Love Lettering Project, Lindsay has asked people all over the world to write love letters to their communities and hide them for strangers to find, spreading place-based love. Lindsay also writes children’s books. Because of The Love Lettering Project, CBC Radio has deemed Lindsay a “national treasure.” Letters to Amelia is her first book.
- Publisher : Book*hug Press (Sept. 7 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1771666986
- ISBN-13 : 978-1771666985