Night Over Water
'It was the most romantic plane ever made.'
And so begins Ken Folletts NIGHT OVER WATER. I am a big Ken Follett fan, my favorite being PILLARS OF THE EARTH which I read long before Oprah ever put it on her list. When I signed up for this years What's In a Name Challenge , it didn't take me long to decide that this was the book I would read for the "Time of Day" category. It was already on my shelf, just waiting to be read.
The story starts off in England, at the dock at Southhampton where people are gathered to watch the approach and water landing of the Clipper, a PanAmerican Boeing 314 passenger plane. The plane was what they called a flying boat, splashing down in the water instead of using a long landing strip. It was a luxury airliner, carrying only the wealthiest of passengers. It is September of 1939 and England has just entered the war with Nazi Germany. The passengers of this final flight of the Clipper,(due to the war), are all, for their own reasons, fleeing their country and the war. Aboard are the weathly Oxenford family. Lord Oxenford is a Facist and will be thrown in jail if he chooses to stay in Englund. His wife is from Connecticut, so they are headed to America to stay with her family for the duration of the war. Their children, Margaret and Percy, do not agree with their fathers beliefs and will do anything to get out from under his oppression and dictatorship. Harry Marks is a young lad of questionable means, but very charming, and has his eye on the upperclasses jewels. Diana Lovesey and her American lover, Mark are headed to a new life, with Diana's husband, Mervyen in hot pursuit. Eddie Deacon is the plane's engineer who is being blackmailed by a gang of thugs who have his wife held captive. Tom Luther is on board and part of the blackmailing, but Eddie hasn't quite figured out what their reasons are. Carl Hartmann is a Jewish scientist, who has been exiled from his country and is fleeing for his life.
Follett's story takes place almost entirely during the 27 hour flight across the Atlantic. It reads like a good movie with plenty of violence, intrigue and betrayal. I very much enjoyed this book, but do have to say that of Follett's work, it is probably my least favorite. Most of his work is full of history, but in this one he is really just telling a story, which is not a bad thing at all.