cover image The Prince of the Skies

The Prince of the Skies

Antonio Iturbe, trans. from the Spanish by Lilit Žekulin Thwaites. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $19.99 (560p) ISBN 978-1-250-80698-7

Iturbe (The Librarian of Auschwitz) exuberantly tells the story of author Antoine de Saint-Expuery and his passion for flying, poetry, and beautiful women. In 1922, Saint-Ex meets fellow pilots Jean Mermoz and Henri Guillaumet, and they become pioneering aviators, opening up mail routes in North Africa and South America for Aeropostale. As the years pass, their paths cross and re-cross through crashes, rescues, deaths and enormous changes in aviation technology. Mermoz goes on to become the most famous pilot in France, and Saint-Ex a celebrated author. Both have marriages that crash and burn, and the one constant is their love of flying. When France declares war on Germany in 1939, Saint-Ex volunteers at 40 for the army and flies hazardous reconnaissance missions. Then, his American editor asks if he would like to write a children’s book for Christmas—and a literary legend is born. The author does a wonderful job of dramatizing how exhilarating and dangerous the early years of civil aviation were for a handful of bold and intrepid pilots. He also recreates in sparking fashion interwar French society. Saint-Ex, his colleagues, and their loves come to life in a novel that would do the author of The Little Prince proud. (Oct.)