cover image Katharine, the Wright Sister

Katharine, the Wright Sister

Tracey Enerson Wood. Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-7282-5787-7

Wood’s charming latest (after The President’s Wife) highlights the contributions Katharine Wright (1874–1929) made to her brothers’ innovations in aviation. Katharine, brazen and spunky, supports her older siblings Orville and Wilbur’s fascination with manned flying machines, suggesting they invent planes in the back of their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. After their mother dies, she keeps house for the family, and though her brothers never finish high school, she graduates from Oberlin and becomes a teacher. She puts her prospects for marriage on hold to help her brothers design the aircraft by studying bird anatomy and recommending fabric for the wings, and she helps write a letter to the Smithsonian asking for information about flying machines. She even identifies Kitty Hawk as the perfect spot to test their plane. Over the years, she makes more sacrifices, as when she gives up her teaching job to nurse Orville after a devastating accident. Told from the points of view of Orville, Wilbur, and Katharine, the lengthy story breezes by with heart and verve. Well-researched depictions of historical events and immersive period details round out this stirring tribute to an unsung trailblazer. It’s a gripping tale of perseverance. Agent: Lucy Cleland, Kneerim & Williams. (Sept.)