A woman’s destiny, a remarkable portrait of Germany’s first female aviator, as well as a magnificent period drama set in Berlin of the Roaring Twenties. But first and foremost, a love story as gripping as it is unusual.
Early twentieth-century Germany. Against all odds, Nelly Becker has realized her dream: to become the country’s first female pilot. She and her French husband live for aerial heights, among hangars and whiffs of gasoline, until World War One and a failing heart puts an end to it all. If she continues to fly, sooner or later, Nelly will fall from the sky.
She separates from her husband and moves into Mrs. Colding’s boardinghouse, a place that is home to as many singular destinies as souls. Nelly feels “muddy, without momentum”, a condition worsened by her love for Mr. Murphy (pilot slang for morphine). Thanks to her excellent mechanic skills, however, she finds work at BMW on Kaiserdamm, where she looks after the motorcycles in the show room. At the annual automotive fair in the fall of 1924 she meets Irma, thin and self-sufficient as a candle. An unexpected movement gives Nelly’s life a new direction, making her blood sting and sing.
Aris Fioretos’ new novel is the story of a muscle that cannot be deterred.
»I answered that the fair was closing soon and put down the kickstand. But she wasn’t in a hurry. Instead of following her colleagues to the exit she placed her hand on mine. For someone interested in learning how the clutch on a R32 works, it’s a natural movement. To me, it was a shock. Nonetheless, I felt calm. Calm yet electric.
In that moment I didn’t understand what was happening. Now I know that life as Completelycrazyyou began.«
German rights sold to Hanser Verlag.
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