LANDING GEAR by Kate Pullinger


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A very contemporary novel, opening in 2010 with the Icelandic volcano that disrupted air traffic in the U.K. for almost a week and ending in the spring of 2015.

The cloud of volcanic ash spewed out by Eyjafjallajökull created many disruptions for one London family. On the one hand, Harriet was briefly able to revive her flagging career as a radio reporter. On the other, her husband, Michael, was stuck in the U.S. on a business trip; since hotel rooms were sold out in New York, he traveled to Toronto to visit Marina, an old friend—though perhaps old flame would be more accurate, for he quickly rekindled the relationship into a weekend fling. At the same time, Harriet and Michael’s 14-year-old son, Jack, was also getting into trouble, going to parties with school friends and almost getting caught with drugs. The narrative then lurches somewhat awkwardly to 2012, and the focus shifts to Yacub, a Pakastani desperate to escape the poverty of his country; he literally takes flight in the wheel well of a plane. As it nears Heathrow, Yacub falls and, incredibly, lands on Harriet’s car. She understandably takes pity on him and takes him home. At first, Harriet tries to keep Yakub's presence a secret from her family, but eventually he comes out to play video games with Jack, and he even makes peace with Michael, who (like the reader) finds his presence rather bizarre. Another subplot—as if one is needed—involves Emily, an erstwhile filmmaker convinced she’s Harriet’s daughter from an earlier relationship with a psychologically unbalanced Irishman. Unbelievably, Emily, who’s been filming Harriet due to her suspected family connection, has video footage of Yacub’s “flight” out of the airplane and onto Harriet’s car.

The outlandish subplots eventually lead to family reconciliation but also make it difficult for readers to suspend their disbelief.

Pub Date: May 20th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4767-5137-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2014


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