Books

Book rec

Night Over Water by Ken Follett. My expectations weren't that high, but I really loved it.

This book falls squarely in the "group of strangers, each with their own agenda, trapped together by circumstances beyond their control" genre. In this case, circumstance is a fictional flight of a real plane, the amphibious Boeing 314 Clipper. Pan Am's first trans-Atlantic flights were luxury "sleeper" flights (the seats folded into bunks) and the book fictionally extends the extremely brief tenure of the commercial Boeing 314 flights into the early days of WWII. The passengers include a family of fascists fleeing the U.K., a German scientist escaping the Nazis, saboteurs, criminals, a runaway bride, etc etc. It's a lot of fun and seems to be pretty well researched as far as I can tell. I particularly enjoyed the way the characters' storylines wove in and out of each other, and that the female characters were as fleshed out and had as much agency and interesting backstory as the guys did.

The book also did something I really liked with sexual consent, although this is slightly spoilery and slightly NSFW, so I'll put it under a cut.



I absolutely loved that with both of the book's major couples, as the on-plane romance ramped up, each couple came to a point where they were clearly on the verge of having sex, the woman decided she wasn't ready for it and said "no", and the guy accepted that answer and backed off. One couple ended up sleeping in the same bed, cuddling, without having sex at all, though they do later on. The other couple resumed later, with the woman initiating, and ended up mutually masturbating each other to orgasm; this is plainly referred to as sex, they were both very happy with it, and the woman considers herself to have lost her virginity. (This is the only instance I can recall, in a book I've read, of a woman losing her virginity via non-PIV sex, although I'm sure there must be others. The losing-her-virginity comparison isn't perfect because technically she wasn't a virgin to begin with -- she'd had multiple lovers, both male and female -- but her previous sexual experiences were unsatisfying enough for her that she explicitly makes the comparison herself.)

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I've never read Follett because I always vaguely had the impression that he was the 70s' answer to Dan Brown. But this sounds up my alley.
See, I wouldn't have tried it either, except I was trapped in a cabin (so to speak) and the paperback was RIGHT THERE. And it was actually really good! Some of the gender stuff does feel slightly dated (I mean, in other than simply a period kind of way), but not nearly to the extent I was expecting, and I actually really liked the two main romances.
There WAS cuddling, because I was trapped in a cabin with a very cuddly, extroverted 10-year-old! Unfortunately it was 80 degrees out.

.... attempting to entertain said 10-year-old for a week in the absence of most electronic devices led to the discovery that "Weeping Angels" is remarkably well suited to a children's game. Which THEN led to the further discovery that suggesting "Weeping Angels" in the first place is an absolutely terrible idea because then you have to make them stop, and so I would be minding my own business, reading my book, and look up to find a Weeping Angel hanging over me with its claws and fangs out, having snuck up on me in perfect silence while I wasn't watching. This led to rules like "weeping angels aren't allowed in the house" and "no playing Weeping Angels with people who haven't consented to it beforehand".
It was pretty funny even at the time. :D Have to admit I totally brought it on myself. This is probably a surefire sign that I'm not really used to being around kids (the kid in question is my nephew). I'm sure anyone who spends large amounts of time around children would have known EXACTLY how that whole thing was going to turn out.

Edited at 2014-07-11 05:56 am (UTC)
Oh, thanks for the rec. I was such a fan of the Pan Am tv series, I've got to check this one out. And really cool take on consent issues, never seen that before either.
I think I read that book years ago! I remember really liking some of the characters, particularly towards the end. I should probably pick it up, read it again as an adult.
I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it, and I really loved some of the characters!
I really liked reading Ken Follett - while they are what I would call "airplane reading," they are entertaining and a most of them have historical backdrops with great details. Two of my favorites are "Pillars of the Earth" (massive, but I only put it down when I absolutely had to) and "Jackdaws" which is about a group of female saboteurs in WWII.