The Sound of Wings: The Biography of Amelia Earheart by Mary S Lovell - review by Penelope Stokes

Penelope Stokes

Didn’t Fly Very Well

The Sound of Wings: The Biography of Amelia Earheart


Hutchinson 472pp £16.95 order from our bookshop

Biographers are sometimes accused of falling in love with their subjects. Here we have a variation upon the theme: a biographer who falls in love with her subject’s husband.

I should add, before the writs begin to rustle, that Mary Lovell never met George Putnam. She readily acknowledges the popular view of him as a ruthless manipulator and, in the early chapters, exposes his biographical warts under an unforgiving lens. Later, one senses that the Putnam charm is taking effect, and although every attempt is made to infuse Amelia Earhart with the same charisma, she remains stubbornly passive – and less interesting.

Amelia shot to fame not as a pilot, but as a passenger in a massive media hype masterminded by George. More stunts followed, with George playing the publicity machine. One observer described their courtship as the romancing of a property.

Lovell rejects this opinion but she is hard pressed to find

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