The Long Flight Home

By: Alan Hlad
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (346 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It is September 1940 - a year into the war - and as German bombs fall on Britain, fears grow of an impending invasion. Enemy fighter planes blacken the sky around the Epping Forest home of Susan Shepherd and her grandfather, Bertie. After losing her parents to influenza as a child, Susan found comfort in raising homing pigeons with Bertie. All her birds are extraordinary to Susan - loyal, intelligent, beautiful - but none more so than Duchess, who shares a special bond with Susan and an unusual curiosity about the human world. 

Thousands of miles away in Buxton, Maine, a young crop-duster pilot named Ollie Evans has decided to travel to Britain to join the Royal Air Force. His quest brings him to Epping and to the National Pigeon Service, where Susan is involved in a new, covert assignment. Codenamed Source Columba, the mission aims to air-drop hundreds of homing pigeons in German-occupied France. Many will not survive. Those that do make the journey home to England can convey crucial information on German troop movements - and help reclaim the skies from the Luftwaffe. 

The friendship between Ollie and Susan deepens as the mission date draws near. When Ollie's plane is downed behind enemy lines, both know how remote the chances of reunion must be. Yet Duchess's devotion and her singular sense of duty will become an unexpected lifeline.

©2019 Alan Hlad (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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What listeners say about The Long Flight Home

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Double surprise ending

No spoilers here, don’t worry. I rarely review a book but this one deserves five stars on many levels. For a first novel it is remarkable in the lack of cliches, including the predictable ending that doesn’t happen! I’ll say no more. Tender, heartbreaking, winsome and apparently well researched, and well performed. There seems to be no end of new World War II books, but The Long Flight Home tells the story from a different perspective. Well worth your time.

17 people found this helpful

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  • BH
  • 07-06-19

The Long Flight Home

I adored this beautifully written book about a love that survived WWII. I also learned so much about pigeons and their role during WWI and WWII. This will be the book that I will choose for my Book Club.

14 people found this helpful

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  • KC
  • 07-20-19

Ammazing book on Pigeons in WWII

This is a story set in 1940's WWII Epping London. I knew that pigeons were used to help in the war. I learned there were one-way and two-way pigeons. It is when pigeons were first being used in the war.Duchess a family pet was accidentally loaded with the first batch of pigeons. It shows the love for the pigeons. Duchess knew what she needed to do and the importance of it.
It has another side to the story the romance between Susan from Epping and Ollie from Maine a crop duster who wanted to fly so came to Britain.
this book has intrigue, clean romance and a healthy dose of history.
It talks on the Blitz where Luftwaffe bombed Londaon for almost 60 continous days. The characters are likeable and believable. The book has a good flow and forces you to want more and contimue reading. Siman Vance does a great job with the narration and keeps your interest. I highly recommend this book .

11 people found this helpful

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A Very pleasant surprise!

I almost passed this one by, From reading the pop-up synopsis, it seemed this was going to be the war from a bird's point of view. However, I was extremely pleasantly surprised to find a very well written Historical Fiction Novel filled with adventure, tragedy and romance. Add Simon Vance's near genius narration and you have one of the best audible books in my massive collection. Well done!

19 people found this helpful

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Great Listen

I enjoyed this book immensely. I was sorry when the last sentence was spoken. I look forward to the next book by this author although he will have a hard time matching this first endeavor.

4 people found this helpful

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Tragedies of World WarII

A slow start, but then picks up becoming an in-depth snapshot of how WWII touched individual lives in England, with the endless bombs falling on them.
It’s also a romantic story about two young people working with pidgins to be dropped into occupied France to return with important military messages for the RAF. I found it hard to listen to this tale because of the hardships, but I’m glad I stayed with
It to the conclusion and gained understanding of that horrible war. It’s a part of history we need to remember.

3 people found this helpful

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More romance than history

I liked the story, but it would have rated higher without the romantic subplot. I wanted more about the use of homing pidgeons during WWII. Also, there were no subtleties in the characters, each was either nice/good or evil/bad. The best character was Duchess. She's a pigeon. That says everything about the characterization.

7 people found this helpful

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A fantastic book

I so enjoyed this book! A great storyline concerning the little known fact of the British's use of pigeons to spot German troop operations. Great story development. The ending, first-rate!

3 people found this helpful

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I’m an old sentimental and did shed a few.

No war time epic novel here. And if a little slow in spots it does pull you into its lovingly written story of a young man, a young women and her love of carrier pigeons, especially Duchess. I did enjoy the book. I believe there could have been a more in-depth look into the use of carrier pigeons during WWII and also the romance aspect could have been a bit more involved. But it was an enjoyable Book to listen to. And I totally enjoyed the narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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Warm-hearted tale with some war action

Alan Hlad gives a fresh slant to some predictable elements: spunky young English woman, jealous English man, fresh-faced American, frail but brave old man, even a kind French woman. Yes, it's another war romance with people being brave and all the Nazis being thoroughly evil. Interestingly, all the English military are pretty rotten people as well or in some cases just stupid. Duchess the pigeon not only saves hearts and minds with her homing skills; she also saves the novel. Her behavior is carefully described so as to be believable--you don't have to suspend disbelief in the way often needed by animal heroes. I was already familiar with the role of pigeons in both world wars. Those who are not will learn some history because Hlad has done his research.
The story is somewhat sentimental but in a good way; the emotion isn't particularly deep but it's honestly earned without manipulation. The only things I found irritating were the too-frequent mentions of arthritic knees and the children's influenza rhyme. Without Simon Vance's excellent narration, this book would not have been half so absorbing.

2 people found this helpful