Captain’s Fancy by Anthony David
Inspired by a 1944 photograph of a pilot with his crew standing in front of ‘The Captain’s Fancy’ Lancaster Bomber, Anthony David has written a page-turning account of the Second World War loosely based on his father’s real-life experiences.
George and Robbie Burgess are brothers who enlist to fight in WW2 and are sent far from New Zealand to fight in the war. Robbie is the ladies’ man, a handsome daredevil. George, his younger brother, is more considered, has the voice of an angel, and achieves his ambition of being a pilot. Both of them experience completely different wars, and interspersed with their stories are the tales of women who flew with The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). In particular, we follow the story of the intelligent and resourceful Natalie, whose story connects with the brothers later in the book.
This is a thoughtful tribute to the author’s father and captures the era well. In places, the novel reads like a series of short stories, with many different characters making brief appearances, but it is a clever way to cover many key aspects of World War II. I particularly enjoyed learning about the women flying with the ATA. The novel also extends beyond the period of the Second World War, but for me, the novel's highlights are the war years. Captain’s Fancy is well-researched and is a compelling read that brings to life this extraordinary time in history.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan