THE WOMAN IN THE WING
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.
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
Reviewed by Marshall B.
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
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
Reviewed by Patricia
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
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
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.
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
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
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
author Wrenn and Volunteer for Glory
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
…I found the story to be well
crafted, layered in mystery and suspense and the characters were believable
…I thoroughly enjoyed the
pictorial creations of the characters, their antics, personal demeanor and
…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
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
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!
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.