This weekend I finished reading Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel. It is a 'page-turner' of the first order. Young Matt Cruse is an accomplished pilot who foils an attempt to hijack his airship and demolish a tower in Paris which the French are planning to use to reach outer space. A very exciting start!
Matt also is in love with Kate de Vries, a fiesty, talented, very rich and beautiful girl. He, of course, is brave, talented, handsome and accomplished and from a poor family (you see where this is going). But the romance part doesn't interfere with the action side of things, much. Instead of the sweetness of a 'Romeo and Juliet' subplot, Oppel allows the relationship lots of misunderstandings, sharp tongued witticisms and heartbreak, mostly because of Kate's intrigues. Soon Matt is offered an opportunity to earn a positon on a secret Outer Space mission - the first of its kind. Kate is invited to go as well. Oppel creates this fantasy from a 19th century world of escorts for young ladies, lighter-than-air ships, wind-up clock mechanisms, winches, immense towers and some serious gaps in the laws of physics. Flash Gordon returns! (Ask your grandpas who Flash Gordon was.) Aircraft engines, jets, telephones, computers, and cell phones don't exist in this book. For that matter, neither does the Women's Vote or the United States, but Canada seems to rule North America. Nice touch. The dialogue of the characters is British sounding and from a previous era.
And it all works!
Congratulations to Kenneth Oppel for an excellent book.