Mary Garden’s Sundowner of the Skies

Sundowner of the Skies written by Mary Garden is my first book review. I first met Mary many years ago when we were young mothers. I found her to be highly intelligent and engaging.

Sundowner of the Skies: the story of Oscar Garden, the forgotten aviator by Mary Garden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With just sandwiches and wearing carpet slippers, Oscar Garden sets off in a second-hand, Gypsy Moth on an incredible journey. There is no fanfare at his departure instead there is only one person to see him off.

“Sundowner of the Skies” is the fascinating biography of the, unassuming, pioneer aviator, Oscar Garden. In 1930, Garden became the youngest and most inexperienced pilot to fly from England to Australia. He was not one to flaunt his heroism. His extraordinary accomplishments have been largely forgotten until now. With this highly researched account written by his own daughter, Mary Garden puts the record straight. But this is not just a historical document. Mary interweaves her own personal struggle into trying to fathom this remarkable, mysterious and yet flawed man.

I found this book to be an engrossing read. I learnt so much. Mary takes you on a journey back in time. We meet Mary’s famous great-grandfather the “Merchant Prince of Orkney” in Scotland. We travel with Oscar on his record breaking trip to Australia experiencing all the technical and physical problems he faced. There are forced landings in places where planes had never before been seen. She compares Oscar achievements with his peers such as Bert Hinkler, Kingsford Smith and Jean Batten. We find out about his relationships with them. She describes Oscar’s involvement with the flying circus. We learn about the perils of being a pilot of the early flying boats.

This well written book is full of interesting historical photos and graphics. But what I find most remarkable is Mary’s courageous honesty which makes this book more whole and accessible. It is a book that will intrigue not just aviator enthusiasts but anyone who enjoys learning about history and the legacy of a hero.

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Review by Linda Murray

I am an artist and writer. To find out more about what I do visit my website.

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