Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Novels about the Cottingley fairies and Nobuo Fujita

In 2018, two nonfiction picture books I wrote were published, Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World That Fairies Are Real and Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot's World War II Story.

I recently read two novels inspired, respectively, by those two true stories (the actual stories, not my versions of them):

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (2017) was inspired by the Cottingley fairies incident, which started in 1917 in Yorkshire, England and maintained an air of wistful intrigue until a new revelation in the 1980s (and, to some, even still). 

The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan (2015) was inspired by Japanese naval pilot Nobuo Fujita's historic bombing of Oregon in 1942 (and the unexpected and touching relationship that developed after).

These two true stories have almost nothing in common other than the fact that I have written about both (well, and that both feature figures who fly).

Yet interestingly at least to me, the novels echo each other in multiple ways. 

Both alternate between the historical story and a present-day story that has a teased-out connection to it. 

The historical stories-within-a-story are told via similar devices: in Secret, an unpublished memoir; in Hummingbird, an unpublished (and possibly discredited) nonfiction manuscript.

Both take certain liberties with the nonfiction aspects, and must, understandably, include dialogue and thoughts that are imagined, if based on extensive research.

In both, themes from the past (of course) have impact on the main characters in the present.

In both, the main character of the contemporary segments is female, and her struggles involve love.

Of smaller significance, both novels are published by the HarperCollins imprint William Morrow. 

Of no significance, I'm not formally reviewing either here but will say that if you're interested in either real-life component, the corresponding novel is worth reading.

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