Review: The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger

Title: The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Historical, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The glitzy days of 1920s New York meet the devastation of those left behind in World War II in a new, delectable historical novel from USA Today bestselling author Meredith Jaeger.

In the final months of World War II, San Francisco newspaper secretary Ellie Morgan should be planning her wedding and subsequent exit from the newsroom into domestic life. Instead, Ellie, who harbors dreams of having her own column, is using all the skills she’s learned as a would-be reporter to try to uncover any scrap of evidence that her missing pilot father is still alive. But when she discovers a stack of love letters from a woman who is not her mother in his possessions, her already fragile world goes into a tailspin, and she vows to find out the truth about the father she loves—and the woman who loved him back.

When Ellie arrives on her aunt Iris’s doorstep, clutching a stack of letters and uttering a name Iris hasn’t heard in decades, Iris is terrified. She’s hidden her past as a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl from her family, and her experiences in New York City in the 1920s could reveal much more than the origin of her brother-in-law’s alleged affair. Iris’s heady days in the spotlight weren’t enough to outshine the darker underbelly of Jazz Age New York, and she’s spent the past twenty years believing that her actions in those days led to murder.

Together the two women embark on a cross-country mission to find the truth in the City That Never Sleeps, a journey that just might shatter everything they thought they knew—not only about the past but about their own futures.

Inspired by a true Jazz Age murder cold case that captivated the nation, and the fact that more than 72,000 Americans still remain unaccounted for from World War II, The Pilot’s Daughter is a page-turning exploration of the stories we tell ourselves and of how well we can truly know those we love.


The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger is an absolutely riveting novel that features two different timelines.

It is 1945 and Ellie Morgan is deeply mourning her father’s probable death. He is a pilot during WWII and his plane has been shot down and there are no survivors. Her mother, Clara, is in a deep depression but Ellie keeps busy working and corresponding with the wives and parents of the other men on the plane. She is a secretary at a local newspaper but Ellie has aspirations of becoming a journalist. She is also engaged and her fiancé Tom Davenport is pressuring her to plan their wedding. But after her father’s belongings are returned to them, Ellie makes a shocking discovery. She finds a bundle of letters that give every indication that her father was involved in a long-time affair with a woman in New York. After planning to go to New York to find answers, she turns to her beloved Aunt Iris for information. She is completely shocked by her aunt’s reaction and Iris decides to accompany her on her trip.  Already in denial that her beloved father is dead, is Ellie prepared for what she might learn?

Ellie is in her mid-twenties and she still lives at home. Her relationship with Tom has been a bit of a whirlwind. Even though women have filled men’s jobs while they are off at war, they are still expected to marry and have a family. As Tom pushes her to plan their wedding, Ellie begins to realize that she is not at all happy at the thought of giving up her dream of writing a newspaper column. As she and Iris search for the author of the letters, Ellie begins to uneasily question whether or not she is making the right decision to marry Tom. But is she prepared to buck tradition and her mother’s expectations in order to pursue her dreams?

As a young woman, Iris leaves home and moves to New York. She becomes a Ziegfield Follies showgirl and by the early 1920s, she is the lead dancer and basks in the limelight. Although Iris finally returns home, her past continues to haunt her. Going with her niece to New York revives all of her memories of a very dark time in her life but she has some of the answers Ellie needs. Having carried a guilt secret for over twenty years, will Iris discover there is any truth to her fears?

The Pilot’s Daughter is a fascinating novel with an intriguing storyline. Ellie is an interesting character with a few irritating traits that sometimes make it difficult to fully like her. But she grows and evolves throughout the story as her aunt’s past experiences help her make a difficult choice. Iris is an incredibly well-developed character whose former life as a showgirl incorporates the real life Ziegfield Follies and the still unsolved murder of Dorothy King into the storyline. Meredith Jaeger brings the various settings and the past vibrantly to life in this captivating novel.

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Filed under Dutton, Historical, Historical (20s), Historical (40s), Meredith Jaeger, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, The Pilots Daughter, Women's Fiction

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