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REVIEWS: THE WOMAN IN THE WING

 

Reviewed by ReviewTheBook.com Member Pam Hedden

Read this book!

Why?  Can't you just trust me?  I promise you this is an excellent read. The Woman in the Wing is the story of Charlotte Mercer who is in training to become a WASP during WWII.  Charlotte's training is interrupted for refusing the advances of a lecherous army major. Charlotte is recruited to work for the FBI who are trying to find the German spy ring responsible for damages at a nearby defense plant.

 

Do you need me to tell you more?  Haven't I made you curious to find out what will happen next?  This mystery is so well written that every time I think I had figured out who the spies are it turns out that I am wrong.

 

More?  Although I am not an expert on women in the armed forces during WWII, the story seems to be well researched and believable.

 

The only thing left to tell you is WHO did it . . . and I won't.

 

Read this book!  It is well-written, fast paced and full of mystery and excitement.

 

 

Reviewed by Laurence Overmire

Hang on Tight!

If you are a fan of historical fiction, as I am, you will really enjoy The Woman in the Wing, a tale of the courageous, dedicated women who worked in defense plants and served with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) on the American home front during World War II.

 

Jean Sheldon weaves a captivating wartime story of espionage, murder and intrigue. You will find yourself deeply immersed in the lives of these women who do their part every day to further the cause of freedom and stem the rising tide of fascism sweeping across the globe.

 

The Woman in the Wing reminds us that the contributions of those who are seldom given the spotlight are nonetheless vitally important to understanding where we are today.

 

 

Reviewed by Marshall B. Lubin

Great story

Reading this book gave me a great deal of insight into the WASPS. I thought I knew something about these courageous women but learned a great deal more from the book.

 

 

Reviewed by Ken Maurizi

There are several eye opening themes in this novel. One is the treatment of the WACS. I was not aware of their lack of status with the Air Force, nor the lack of respect women had in the work force in general. We still know there are "glass ceilings", but this novel opens your eyes that there wasn't even a glass first floor. The book is a fair mystery. The characters are well developed. My major disappointment was I wanted more about the experience the women had flying the different planes and the differences in what was needed in handling the different planes.

 

 

Reviewed by Betababe

WASP Whodunit Has The Right Stuff

A delightful romp! Set in WWII, the story revolves around the WASP, a real group of women who flew military aircraft of every description everywhere but in combat. Although many aspects have been fictionalized, the love of flying and the sheer dedication of these women comes through clearly. The plot, involving Nazi attempts to derail our war effort, is again based on fictionalized real events and moves along swiftly. Thoroughly enjoyed this!

 

 

Reviewed by Patricia Austin

This tale, though fiction, rests in fact - female aviators delivering aircraft from factories to domestic military bases during the Second World War, for fighting men take over the craft. (Women were not allowed in combat.)

 

Protagonist Char is set to graduate from aviation training when an altercation with her male commanding officer sends her off to work in the factory where the planes are built instead of being allowed to fly them. To lessen the blow, her new job is to help the FBI search for German spies who have been sabotaging production. Teamed up with FBI agent Ellie and supervised by Ellie's brother Dave, Char learns how to handle a riveting gun and build an airplane wing (and we do too, at least in theory) and to appreciate the hard work performed by women during the war.

 

Char and Ellie also hunt for the spies, who in turn are hunting for them.

The novel covers both the factory and the flight training base, and both FBI and civilian efforts to halt the sabotage. It also points out the adversarial atmosphere created by men who felt threatened by the influx of talented women into male-dominated occupations.

The book reads well although at times plot elements felt artificial. Despite this minor fault it tells a story worth knowing!

 

 

Reviewed by GramB

An interesting time in history in a good story

A bit predictable, but clean and an interesting time in history without much exposure on the WASP pilots before reading this story.

 

 

Reviewed by Maureen A Clouser

WWII Mystery

I enjoy reading historical fiction which also lets you learn more about the time period. I didn't know about the WASP pilots and they certainly deserve the recognition they get in this novel. As do the women who worked at hard and at times dangerous jobs in the WWII factories. This is an entertaining mystery with spies, sabotage, murder and a dash of romance.

 

 

Reviewed by Patricia C. Whitehead

WWII at its Finest

I have a love of WWII fiction and this book met my love head on. I was born just before D Day and my Uncle Babe died jumping during the invasion. That is where my passion comes in. This book was well written and a good mystery. What more could you ask for?

 

 

Reviewed by Meagan

I stumbled across this book and was hooked by chapter 2. Suspenseful, interesting story about women living in the US during ww2. I would highly recommend it!

 

 

The Woman in the Wing

Veronica Nagy

This is a great book and it has a little bit of WWII history woven through the pages things that you don't learn in a history book. It keeps you turning the pages for more. A very enjoyable read.

 

Great Mystery of Chicago Women's WWII Efforts

Wu Wei (Maggi Lunde)

I really enjoyed learning about the role of women in WWII in Chicago. I only had a theoretical idea of what it was like. I knew that OHare was originally a defense plant but I knew practically nothing about the WASPs. I was appalled that they were considered a non-military branch, had no military benefits, but were under the control of the military. The wars we have fought would not have been won without these women. Thank you, Jean Sheldon, for taking the time to enlighten us

 

Reviewed by Alice Lynn, author Wrenn and Volunteer for Glory

I'm a recent fan of Jean Sheldon, so obtaining a copy of A Woman In the Wing was a treat. I found myself stealing time out of my busy day to read just one more chapter. The historical background of this WW II mystery is well done, as are the details of flying and airplane construction. The authenticity of background combined with engaging characters bring you directly into war time. Char, a member of the WASP pilot training program, teams up with Ellie, an FBI agent, in an effort to discover who is sabotaging the production of military aircraft. While we get insights into one of the chief saboteurs and her evil schemes, it isn't until the end that her assumed identity is revealed. The fairly large cast of characters adds to the "red herrings" of detective novels as well as providing sub-plots. I highly recommend this novel for mystery lovers as well as military or aviation buffs.

 

 

Reviewed by Haven's Pen "Dar"

Where's Part Two? Not my usual genre; I enjoyed it just the same. Jean Sheldon sends the reader back to a time when women were becoming more than housewives. The unfortunate truth shows that for all the ground we thought we had gained, much has fallen away.

The story has a build up of excitement and intrigue. Trying to figure out who the bad guys/women are, the reader is caught up in mystery.

My reason for giving it less than four stars is the dialogue. It seemed awkward at times. And maybe it was just me, but I found keeping track of who's who confusing all the way to the end. Maybe that is due to the lack of military training on my part. I need to understand ranking. So someone who has studied that may have better luck in reading this. Even still, the story kept me interested.

 

 

Reviewed by Betty Gelean ReviewTheBook.com 

I am so excited by this book and very pleased to recommend it. It is well-written, intense, and true to itself. Jean Sheldon really knows how to tell a story. Taking place after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it is a work of fiction in a very realistic presentation. Based on the work of women in the United States during wartime, it centers around the work of the "Rosie the Riveters" as they came to be known, and the women pilots in the WASP. Jean Sheldon has given us an insight into the personal and work lives of these women, reflecting the attitudes of the time, and giving us a good dose of sabotage and espionage as well.

"The Woman in the Wing" grabbed my attention and held it until even after I finished the book. I think this is the longest I ever sat with one book trying to read it all at once.  If it weren't for requiring nourishment and sleep, I'm sure I would have done just that. This is not something I say often. 

There are not many works of fiction that feature the women, although the author gives some references on-line for non-fiction resources at the back of the book. I even found myself looking up some of the planes mentioned after reading the descriptions!  The story primarily follows the paths of two very good friends and neighbours who want to fly and manage to get the training for it. But Char, our chief protagonist, has run into the male-domination theme so prevalent in the this era, and she is told she will not get her wings because of something distasteful to her which she flat out refuses. I, being a child of the 1940s, applaud Ms. Sheldon for incorporating this imbalance of humanity that was very current at that time and still persists in some ways today.

Enter the FBI searching for Nazi spies in the warehouses and hangars. There appear to be a number of them sabotaging the planes being built and those in use. Since Char is being "punished" for her refusal of the Major's proposal, she has been sent to be a riveter, along with her friend Max.  They are soon required to watch out for suspicious behaviour and report it to the FBI. They know there are FBI agents working in the facility too, but they don't know who they are.

Accidents have increased in the facility over the past 3 months and are becoming more personal than just slowing production. It soon escalates to planes crashing, equipment falling, and murder, with deaths and injuries piling up, building from fear to terror for the women. Character-driven, the plot accelerates through the whole book until the reader may find he/she is out of breath. I highly recommend this book for its research, subject matter, characterizations, and its exciting, suspenseful finish.


 

Reviewed by April Hanson ReviewTheBook.com 

Set in Chicago during WWII and focusing on the female contribution to the war effort, ‘The Woman in the Wing’ is a finely crafted suspense thriller that had me turning the pages at a furious pace.

 

It’s the summer of 1944 and Char is getting ready to graduate from Woman Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) training when she gets reassigned because she won’t sleep with the Major. She finds out she will be working undercover at a defense plant with FBI agent Eleanor Frazier in an effort to locate some German spies that may be working at the plant. There has been an increase in “accidents” at the plant and the FBI believes the Germans may be trying to sabotage the war planes being built there. Char and Ellie become riveters at the plant alongside many other women, one of whom may be the ringleader of the German spies. Will they uncover the identities of the spies before it is too late and, if they do, will Char finally get her wings?

 

Author Jean Sheldon has written a well-researched story set in a period of US history that many people probably know very little about. The participation of women in the war effort during World War II wasn’t often acknowledged but their support made it possible for the US to intervene in Germany and Japan and ultimately put an end to the war. I love that Ms. Sheldon uses this information as the framework for her novel and, in doing so not only entertains, but teaches us a bit of history. The story is fast paced and the characters are interesting and well-developed. I truly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes historical suspense.

 

 

Reviewed by Darcy Odden ReviewTheBook.com

History, mystery and a little romance combine in Jean Sheldon's "The Woman in the Wing." It's 1940 and young Charlotte Mercer and her best friend Maxine enroll in a civilian flight training program at Northwestern University in Chicago. The two complete their training and in 1942 are invited to apply to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) to fly military airplanes. As accomplished pilots, Char and Maxi are welcomed into the WASP training program where they soon become two of the WASP's best pilots. Char finishes her testing first in her class, but is denied her wings by the base commander when she refuses his advances. The commander instead orders her to work as a riveter at the Douglas Aircraft plant to assist the FBI in investigating possible spies at the airfield and plant.

Dave Frazier is the FBI agent Char works with on the investigation. Dave's sister, Ellie, also an agent, is assigned as Char's partner in the assembly plant. WASP pilots are going down in sabotaged planes and deadly accidents and murders are occurring at the plant. To uncover the saboteurs, Char and Ellie snoop into the lives of their fellow riveters.

"The Woman in the Wing," though fiction, contains much history of the WASP program and World War II. Author Sheldon keeps readers guessing as to the identity of the saboteurs. Her characters are engaging and Sheldon's story gives readers an inside look into the daily life of Americans at home during World War II. There are a few instances where sentences are repeated and a few scene transitions that come abruptly, but overall this is a great read for anyone who loves a mystery and is interested in the World War II era.

 
 
Reviewed by Janice Hidey ReviewTheBook.com
As a young girl I was fascinated with stories about pilot Amelia Earhart and read every book in my elementary school library about her. I then found out about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and read about their role in World War II. When I heard that Jane Sheldon’s book The Woman in the Wing centered around some WASP I had to read it.
 

Sheldon has written an interesting historical mystery that follows several WASP on a military base where the commander is not favorable to the WASP and actually wants “favors” for the women to get their wings. Add to this one a deadly accident involving the death of a WASP where sabotage is expected and  Nazi sympathizers are suspected and you have quite a thriller.

 

The main character, Charlotte Mercer experienced the sexual harassment on base and was given an opportunity to work at one of the airplane factories with a woman FBI agent, Ellie, as one of “Rosie’s riveters”.  It was very physically demanding work attaching the parts of the wings using rivets, thus the name. Many “accidents” started to occur and as they learned the job they also got to know the women. They come to believe that there is a Nazi spy among them and somehow this is also tied into the sabotage at the base.

 

With the help of another FBI woman on base and Ellie’s FBI brother who coordinated everyone they put together the pieces of who is responsible for the sabotage on the base and at the factory.

 

Sheldon gives good insights into the women during World War II and the sacrifices they made for the war effort whether it was as a WASP or a riveter. Those women who  stayed at home were also the first recyclers and learned how to use what they had. As a woman I was proud of those who went before me and paved the way for me.

 

This book was a very good mystery that kept me turning the pages but it also is great for those who are interested in history.

 

Reviewed by Tara GOODREADS.com

This is a historical whodunit and an enjoyable mystery very similiar to the Nancy Drew books I read as a kid. In this case, "Nancy Drew" is Char, a WASP in training getting her wings clipped due to her refusual to sleep with the Major. Her sidekicks (somewhat like George and Bess) are her longtime friend and fellow WASP, Maxi and an FBI agent, Ellie. Char and Ellie go to work at an aircraft factory riveting the wings of the C-54 Skymasters in hopes of apprehending suspected German spies that are causing mishaps within the factory. Some of these mishaps are costing lives. Meanwhile, Maxi is mistaken for another pilot and her life is almost ended prematurely when her plane goes down in a corn field. Another case of mistaken identity robs a fellow riveter of her life when she attains a screwdriver in her back meant for Ellie.

Can Ellie and Char discover the Nazi spies before one or both of them ends up with a screwdriver in their backs? If Char can succeed in this mission, will she be able to graduate with her fellow WASP and start working in a cockpit again rather than a wing?

Intriguing tale, but not quite 5 stars. There was a lot of repititon. An example would be when Ellie's brother Dave, an FBI agent himself finds out information, it all must repeated later (almost word for word) to Char and Ellie. There was no need to read it all twice. There were times it felt like the game of Clue. It had a "Hannah Brown in the hangar with a wrench".. kind of feel. It is a mystery, however.

Great attention to detail on the riveting process! The women working on the aircraft were just as important as the ones that flew them. I like how this novel shows us the women in the wings (literally IN the wings holding bucking bars!) as well as the women in the cockpits.

I recommend this to war and aviation buffs as well as young adults with similar interests. The novel is very clean and somewhat educational.

 

 

Reviewed by Ann K. D. Myers Historical Novel Society

The United States has entered World War II and needs all the help it can get in the war effort. Charlotte Mercer is a Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) trainee eager to fly for her country. But when an inappropriate proposition from a superior results in her removal from the training program, her future career looks bleak. Misfortune turns to opportunity when she is reassigned to an FBI investigation into a ring of German spies. Working undercover as a riveter putting together the airplanes she hopes to fly, Char must identify the Nazi imposter before it is too late.


Sheldon has created a suspenseful mystery with ample historical detail about how women were viewed and treated as participants in the war effort. At times her portrayal of the disrespect and scorn shown to women overshadows the plot, but Sheldon’s exploration of the wide variety of backgrounds of the main characters and their different motivations for getting involved in the war effort provides insight into what that period of American history was like for its citizens. In addition to the social commentary, there are fascinating details about the mechanics of the planes being flown and worked on and the different flying maneuvers practiced by the trainees.


The Woman in the Wing has plenty of action and excitement, and readers will enjoy trying to identify the German spy along with Char and her fellow agents. This book would appeal to those interested in World War II or women’s history and anyone who loves a good mystery.

 

 

Reviewed by Cy B. Hilterman  BESTSELLERSWORLD.COM

This is a fictional story but has a storyline that no doubt occurred many times during World War II wherever military bases and/or factories were located where women ferried airplanes to areas of the United States where they were needed, or worked in a factory to help produce our nations airplanes. It is a story depicting how hard the women worked and the prejudice of many types they endured. Far too many felt women should not fly and should not work in a factory producing airplanes or weapons. The factory work was really mandated with the military taking most of the available and able-bodied men. This group of women was known as the "WASP" which stood for "Women Airforce Service Pilots." Their steady and valuable effort to help build airplanes, ships, and various other weapons and machinery greatly enhanced the war effort.

Women in the Wing tells the story of several women that volunteered their time and low-paying service to the WASP and the defense plants around the nation, in this story mostly the mid-west. Charlotte Mercer loved to fly but she had to fight her father first to convince him that she belonged in a cockpit to fly to help her nations war effort. Charlotte's friend, Maxine, also wanted to fly and eventually they both talked their families into letting that occur. Their trek began when they appeared before the training commander at the Douglas Aircraft Factory where they given a hard interview with the woman in charge. Their past flying experience got them accepted into the training program. A male officer, Major Deavers, had the final say as to who got their WASP wings after training but when he interviewed Charlotte (Char) he told her he would not allow her to receive her wings unless she went to bed with him! As ludicrous as this sounds, in those days many men got away with this and actually got the results they wanted with women. Not Char. Deavers assigned Char to another job working in the airplane factory, but not including flying.

Enter David Frazier, an FBI agent and brother of three sisters, one of who, Eleanor, an FBI agent, became a worker with a very surprised Char turned FBI agent, in the factory. Dave worked as their liaison and was never too far away. The girls blended right in with other workers and became riveters, a job they discovered was a very hard and demanding job that left them completely worn out after each shift. Once they learned how to rivet they figured they would have more time to look around to see anything suspicious.

Things became very interesting when several bad accidents occurred, some in the plant and some while a WASP was ferrying or flight testing an airplane. At first it was very hard to see anything wrong occurring but eventually the girls saw and heard things that they were suspicious of and gave the information to Dave. But instead of sabotage decreasing it increased and became more dangerous. The girls got better at seeking out suspects as more got injured. The reader can sense the danger that German spies caused in our defense during WWII, seemingly unconcerned if they hurt or killed their fellow workers that they had gotten to know quite well. Char and Eleanor were in danger when some spies suspected they, as well as some other girls, were agents and they had to watch each others backs carefully.

The Woman in the Wing is an easy but good read. Jean Sheldon writes in a way that you can understand what is going on and why. I have never read any of her books before but this makes me want to try another. Thanks Jean.

 

Reviewed by Sandie Kirkland for RebeccasReads

The Woman In The Wing is a mystery that follows the adventures of Charlotte Mercer and other members of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during World War II. This organization, made up entirely of women, was loosely attached to the Air Force and did routine flying missions within the United States, such as delivering planes to new locations, or towing targets for gun practice, so that male pilots in the Air Force would be freed for fighting missions overseas. The women in the WASP were not considered full service people, and had no benefits such as medical insurance or even money to cover funerals when a woman died during a mission. Still, women flocked to serve as opportunities to fly and serve the country were rare. Charlotte, know as Char is crushed when weeks from getting her wings, she encounters a Air Force Major who refuses to pass her for graduation unless she performs sexual favors for him.

When Char refuses, she is taken off the flying rotation and given an alternate assignment. She is assigned to work undercover in a plant that builds aircraft, and that has been experiencing sabotage and accidents. Char is to room with an FBI agent named Ellie, and they work at riveting plane wings while trying to discover the spy responsible for the problems. People start to die, both plant employees and women pilots, and the book revolves around the investigation until the spy is captured at the book's climax.

This book is recommended, both for mystery fans and for those interested in World War II history. While I'd heard of the stereotype of Rosie the Riveter and the work these women performed, I had never heard of the WASP, and the women who served their country in this fashion. I found the history as interesting as the plotline and welcomed the chance to learn more about a time that helped lay the groundwork for the women's liberation movement in the next generation.

 

Reviewed by: Kay Spang, author of ‘Away Games’

Jean Sheldon’s, ‘The Women in the Wing’, aptly depicts the role of women pilots and factory machinists during WWII, who worked backstage and without social recognition. Insightfully, Sheldon utilizes the ambitious and dedicated characters of her book to set a metamorphic stage for the role of women today.

…I found the story to be well crafted, layered in mystery and suspense and the characters were believable and likeable. 

…I thoroughly enjoyed the pictorial creations of the characters, their antics, personal demeanor and clothing styles.

…I could easily relate to the struggle of the women to make contributions and to the passion of the women pilots to explore flight.

…I welcome the inclusion of the book to libraries, where young children can round out their pursuit of historical events. ( i.e. WASP and women in the workforce.)

 

 

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb BESTSELLERSWORLD.COM

Like reading high-flying WWII novels of adventure and mystery? Then Jean Sheldon's excellent page-turning book The Woman In The Wing is a novel you're sure to enjoy! Sheldon, the author of the popular mystery series featuring Chicago police Detective Kerry Grant, sets this book also in Chicago, but during the WWII era. The contributions women made to the war effort are often overlooked, but they made many crucial contributions and sacrifices that greatly aided the Allies in their defeat of Nazi Germany under Hitler. The Woman In The Wing chronicles the emergence of the brave, gutsy, and determined women flyers who flew and transported planes as the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and the countless numbers of "Rosie the Riveters" who worked building planes. Also, the main character, Charlene (Char) Mercer, working at the fictional WASP airfield near Douglas Aircraft (where O'Hare Airport is today), has to contend with ruthless Nazi spies and the misogynist Major Deavers on her way to earning her Silver Wings.

You might reasonably ask, "What does the title The Woman In The Wing refer to?" After all, pilots fly the planes, one might reason, so shouldn't the title be more like, say, The Woman In The Cockpit? I'm glad you asked that question. Char, prevented from getting her Silver Wings (at least, temporarily) by Major Deavers because she won't show how much she wants to fly by having sex with him, instead is given the mission to work at Douglas Aircraft as a riveter. Neither one knows that what she's really being asked to do is to work with her partner, FBI Agent Ellie Frazier, posing as a riveter to stop Nazi saboteurs bent on hampering the United States and its allies from defeating Germany. Riveters worked as teams of two, one outside of the wing with a riveting gun and one inside known as a "bucker" because she'd hold something called a "buck board" against the holes where the rivets would go in. The one inside would, literally, be a woman in the wing of a plane. Also, the title likely refers to the fact that women had begun to play a larger role in the war, rather than being relegated to being "in the wings."

The camaraderie that develops between Char and her fellow flight trainees and, later, with her co-workers at Douglas Aircraft, helps give her and the other characters in the novel an added amount of three-dimensionality that makes whoever reads the books care for the characters more, and root for them to succeed despite the many difficulties that confront them. Char applied to be a WASP with her best friend, Maxine (Maxi) Davies, who shares her interest in flying. A lot of men at the time wanted to see the WASP program fall on its face, thinking unjustly that wars and flying airplanes are not ladylike pursuits, and that women should not and weren't meant to be active participants in such previously male-dominated arenas.

However, not all men were unenlightened Neanderthals, and some believed that a woman could do and be anything she set her mind to being and doing. For instance, there's Ellie's brother, the FBI Agent Dave Frazier, injured during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He grew up nurtured and surrounded by his sisters and other women, and does all he can to making sure that Major Deavers doesn't thwart Char's getting her Silver Wings. By being the love interest of the WASP Commander Mathison, he also injects a bit of romance into this intriguing historically based mystery novel.

The Woman In The Wing evokes a sense of the struggles and hardships women had to endure to begin playing a more active part in WWII. Though a fictional account of the WASP, Jean Sheldon's research of them was thorough, and she cites many references at the end of her book for anyone who wants to learn more about them. It's also a very suspenseful mystery, with enough Nazis, murders, and sabotage to hold the interest of the most jaded mystery fans. The Woman In The Wing is a book you'll want to add to your reading list today!

 
 

Reviewed by MyShelf.Com

Charlene (Char) Mercer works as a WASP on the airfield at Douglas Aircraft.  She has to contend with Major Deavers, a misogynist who stands in the way of her winning her silver wings. She has refused to sleep with him.

Char is given an assignment to work as a riveter at Douglas Aircraft. She has a partner, FBI agent Ellen Frazer.   They are to stop the Nazi saboteurs who are bent on hampering the U S and Allies in their attempt to defeat Germany.

The Woman In the Wing chronicles the story of the brave and determined women who flew and transported planes as the Womens Air Force Service Pilots and of the "Rosie the Riveters" who worked to build the planes. It is a suspenseful mystery with the Nazis, murder and sabotage.  But it also describes the struggle and hardship the women had to endure to begin an active role in World War II.  Many men wanted to see the program fail, believing that flying was not "a woman's pursuit."

There are references at the end of the book about the role of American women serving in World War II for any reader who wants to know more.

 

 

 
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