“I don’t know if it was worth it, but I’m certain of one thing, they made their lives extraordinary.”
Antonio Iturbe ~ The Prince of the Skies
In the 1920s, long before he wrote The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was an accomplished pilot.
Along with Jean Mermoz and Henri Guillaumet, he was chosen to pioneer new mail routes across the globe. No distance was too far and no mountain too high—each letter had to reach its destination.
The three friends soared through the air, while back on solid ground, they dealt with a world torn apart by wars and political factions.
We perhaps take air travel for granted, but in the early part of the 20th century, flying was a risky business. Pilots flew in terrible conditions in planes completely open and exposed to the elements.
One of these pilots was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – the author of Le Petit Prince. In this fictionalised memoir, we learn about the man before he became a household name.
It’s beautifully written and the author really conjures up the romance of Paris, the adrenaline-fuelled flights and the dangers of the desert. For those interested in history, this insight into early postal services really is fascinating.
However, it is a very slow book. It jumps rapidly from year to year and between the characters; although it’s interesting, it isn’t a book to whizz through in one sitting. If we view this book as a memoir, the timeline does provide credibility – as we all know life is not a carefully planned plot – but its pace and lack of a hook may deter readers.
While the character of Antoine is examined and described in great detail, we lack information on his companions; although he is the main character, it would have been more compelling to have the same level of analysis of his friends. That said, the book is already a hefty tome and any longer might prove unforgiving!
But the quality of the prose, and the dedication of the author, offers a satisfying novel that provides a rare insight into this period of history, as well as the short life of the little prince’s creator.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher and Random Things Tours. All opinions my own.
For creative book and theatre reviews, follow us on Instagram.