In this debut novel, a series of chance encounters and coincidences sends a college student on a journey of self-discovery.
In April 1965, Katherine Roebling takes a leap of faith and moves to Chicago after accepting a position as an airline stewardess. The job means taking a two-year leave from Beloit College in Wisconsin, where she studies anthropology. But her adviser has given her a waiver to complete course work at Northwestern University before returning to her studies at Beloit. With her best friend and roommate, Charlotte Delaney, a Bunny at the Playboy Mansion, Katherine enjoys a life of travel and escapades; yet she finds herself at a crossroads as she reaches the end of her leave. While she promised her parents and adviser that she would continue her education, she is one-eighth Chippewa and feels the need to examine her Native American roots. Trips to Greece and New York pique her interest in other cultures, and a visit with a friend named Adam Goldstein prompts her to research possible connections between Native Americans and the lost tribes of Israel. She searches for direction until the mysterious appearance of eagle and crow feathers sends Katherine on an exploration of her Chippewa heritage and leads to a new career and the chance for true love in Washington, D.C. Kundert offers a sparkling, sharply observed tale of a young woman’s search for personal and intellectual fulfillment during a time of tremendous social and political change. Katherine is a strong, dynamic heroine whose odyssey takes her from academia to busy airports and exotic trips before she finds a home in Washington and a job at the Smithsonian. She is surrounded by a well-rounded cast of supporting characters, including Emma Jean Hasting, a fellow stewardess and Southern belle who dreams of romance; Danny O’Brien, a Playboy Club bouncer; and Neal Meyer, an aspiring Justice Department attorney who falls for Katherine. The author also does a fine job describing Katherine’s cultural and social milieu. A former United Airlines stewardess, Kundert paints a vivid portrait of Katherine’s flight attendant world, from the weigh-ins and strict dress code to the leering male passengers. The author weaves in several subplots, including one about Luther Williams, an inner-city child Danny mentors. While Luther’s story ends abruptly, his friendship with Danny provides additional insights into the bouncer’s character.
A thoughtful and sensitively observed tale with a heroine whose adventures are worth following.