Title: In Hovering Flight
Author: Joyce Hinnefeld
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2009
Paperpack: 288 pages
At 34, Scarlet Kavanagh has the kind of homecoming no child wishes, a visit back to family and dear friends for the gentle passing of her mother, Addie, a famous bird artist and an even more infamous environmental activist. Though Addie and her husband, ornithologist Tom Kavanagh, have made their life in southeastern Pennsylvania, Addie has chosen to die at the New Jersey home of her dearest friend, Cora. This is because the Kavanagh’s ramshackle cottage is filled with too much history and because, in the last ten years or so, and for reasons that are not entirely clear, even bird song has seemed to make Addie angry, or sad, or both. Now, in their final moments together, Scarlet hopes to put to rest the last tensions that have marked their relationship.
Through tender conversations with Cora and Lou, another of Addie’s dear friends, Scarlet slowly comes to peace with her mother’s complicated life. But can she do the same with her own? Scarlet has carried a secret into these foggy days – a secret for Addie, one that involves Cora, too.
In its structure and style this novel follows in the tradition of writers like Virginia Woolf, Harriet Doerr, and Carol Shields: musical and dramatic, with myriad stories and voices. But the evocative language of this soaring novel is Hinnefeld’s own.
Beautiful, compassionate, and life affirming, In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld is about the circle of one woman’s life and the lives of those she touched. Hinnefeld opens her novel with the death of Addie Kavanagh and where the reader first meets Addie’s and Tom’s daughter, Scarlet and Addie’s best friend Cora. Hinnefeld takes the reader from past and present to examine in-depth numerous relationships; mother-daughter, secrets, deep friendships, as well as the beautiful romance between husband and wife, an unwavering devotion to each other’s passions, dreams, and desires. In Hovering Flight will no doubt affect readers on many different levels, I was deeply moved by the message of love, compassion, and the subtle and not so subtle messages of nature and one’s awareness and connectivity to nature. Hinnefeld has orchestrated a brilliant array of intelligent and rather enjoyable characters, packing many messages into a short novel, yet without the storyline ever appearing rushed. For me to merely point out the beauty contained within the pages of In Hovering Flight is an oversimplification of Hinnefeld’s messages, this is a story that must be felt through the reader. I recommend without reservation the debut novel, In Hovering Flight, by the very promising author Hinnefeld, to all readers.
Joyce Hinnefeld is the Cohen Chair in English and Literature at Moravian in Bethlehem, Pa. She is the author of a short story collection, Tell Me Everything and Other Stories (University Press of New England, 1998), which was awarded the 1997 Breadloaf Writer’s Conference Bakeless Prize in fiction in 1997. Her first novel, In Hovering Flight, was a #1 Indie Next Pick.
I received a complimentary copy of In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld from Unbridled Books to review. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.