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Visible Empire

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  411 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
From a writer who “deserves the attention of anyone in search of today's best fiction”* comes an epic novel—based on true events—of wealth, race, grief, and love, charting one sweltering summer in Atlanta that left no one unchanged (*Washington Post)

It’s a humid June day when the phones begin to ring in Atlanta: disaster has struck. Air France Flight 007, which had been ch
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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May 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Visible Empire had a lot of initial promise. Based on reality, an Air France charter flight, filled with some of Atlanta’s most prestigious art lovers and patrons, crashed upon take-off in Paris in the early 1960s. Families and friends were devastated and children were left orphans. In the meantime, the city of Atlanta was in the midst of the Camelot era, yet dealing with the inequities of social, economic and racial disparities.

I expected a novel that concentrated on the emotional growth proces
Sharon Huether
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads, novel
A story about the 1962 air line crash in Paris. All were lost on the trip back to the U.S. These were the art loving people of Atlanta.
One of the families affected by the loss of family and friends; was Robert and Lily, they saw their future disappear. Lily was at home, expecting a baby soon. The tragedy brought Robert and Lily back together.
There were parts of this book that took off in a totally different.It didn't flow.
I won this book through Goodreads First reads.
Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves
Thank you to Doubleday and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.

I know many people have mixed feelings about fiction based on real life events, but I’m a fan! In Visible Empire, the Orly plane crash is the big event that ties lots of disparate people and perspectives together (and the opening chapters recounting the crash are riveting). The overall book is more a portrait of Atlanta in the 1960’s from all these different perspectives (the Mayor’s wife, family of the crash victims, an Afri
Kari Ann Sweeney
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Loved the cover, loved the description, didn't love the book.
While I could totally enjoy this novel as a mini-series, it didn't work for me as a novel. It had a lot of promise- historical fiction based on a plane crash in 1962 and the survivors back home in Atlanta who are left to pick up the pieces of their new reality. After reading it, I wasn't sure it had much to do with the plane crash at all. You know those books that almost get it right? This one almost gets it right- but in the e
Linda Hutchinson
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I am a little flummoxed about how to review this book. Was it about race relations in Atlanta, or was it about a plane crash in France where 100 or more of the wealthiest citizens of Atlanta perished, or was it about infidelity, or was it about interracial romance, or was it about suddenly rich survivors? The novel started with an interesting story line but the book disintegrated (along with the plane) into a variety of vignettes that really did not pull the story together. I’ll be interested in ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was completely caught up in this novel, but the ending felt rushed. Pittard's writing is lovely, and I will read her other novels.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: zz-2017ng, kindle
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher -
It’s a humid June day when the phones begin to ring in Atlanta: disaster has struck. Air France Flight 007, which had been chartered to ferry home more than one hundred of Atlanta’s cultural leaders following a luxurious arts-oriented tour of Europe, crashed shortly after takeoff in Paris. In one fell swoop, many of the city’s wealthiest residents perished.

Left behind were
Bonnie Brody
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This novel is based on a real plane crash that occurred in 1962 as a French plane was taking off for Atlanta. Virtually all the passengers died in the crash and their remains were burnt beyond recognition. Almost all of the passengers were from Atlanta, having completed a European tour and now heading home. The novel is told from the points of view of those who lost loved ones in the crash or were connected to the deceased in some way.

Robert is married to Lily who is due to give birth in about o
Andrew Campbell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pittard has managed to write an exquisite novel about a few weeks in the lives of people living in Atlanta in 1962. The catalyst which propels the story is the crash of a plane carrying the leading and richest citizens of Atlanta.

The book centers around the lives of Robert and Lily, profoundly affected by the crash. Lily has lost both her parents and her wealth while Robert has lost his mistress. .The book takes the reader through the issues of Southern society and attitudes via the character o
May 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a native Atlantan transplanted to Northern California as an adult, I was eager to read "Visible Empire" set in Atlanta, GA in the immediate aftermath of the Orly airplane crash which tragically killed many local arts patrons in 1962. I was twelve years old when this event occurred and vividly recall my horror at the many children orphaned by this event as well as the beautiful Rodin sculpture gifted by the city of Paris to the city of Atlanta for its High Museum of Art.

Hannah Pittard did a g
Jill Meyer
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
On June 3, 1962, an Air France charter flight bound for New York City and then Atlanta, crashed upon takeoff from Paris's Orly Airport. Only two people on the 707 survived the crash; the other 130 people were killed. All the 120 passengers were from Atlanta and were returning from a three week tour of Europe. All were from Atlanta's wealthiest and most prestigious families and their deaths echoed for years in the arts and social communities of the city.

Hannah Pittard has written a novel, "Visib
Amy lifewiththe_williams
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book was so moving and so thought provoking and so relevant to our time even tho it is set in the 1960’s. It’s sad to realize that we haven’t progressed as much as we think. I loved the character driven story tho, each and every character and their development in the wake of this tragedy
"It was four trustees of the Art Association and a former president of Oglethorpe University and half the members of the Junior League and both cofounders of the Atlanta English-Speaking Union and seven volunteers of the Humane Society and twenty members of the Druid Hills High School PTA and another twelve of Westminster's PTA and three faculty members of Emory University, not to mention the first female clerk of the Georgia Supreme Court. It was every member of the ad hoc all-female croquet te ...more
Lynn Barbre
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I would not waste my time or money on this book. Not at all what I expected.
Carlie The Bookish Girl
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: belletrist
3.7 stars.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a digital ARC of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on NetGalley. I’m grateful to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for their generosity and am happy to post this honest review. All opinions are my own.

The foundation of Visible Empire is the 1962 fatal crash of an Air France jet transporting 121 of Atlanta’s art patrons—the wealthy, white, upper-crust of the city. From there, Pittard builds her tale of those left behind—the grieving remainder of the muckety-mucks, the
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rounding up from 3.5 - I really enjoyed the first 3/4s of the novel and the panoply of characters Pittard introduces, giving us a swirling view of Atlanta in 1962. But everything starts to feel a bit glancing, especially the politics, and the novel ultimately concludes with a scene of off-screen horror and then a limp wrap-up.

Still, I adore Pittard’s writing and I’m aware that this was a deeply personal novel for her - so, okay, I’m glad I read it.
Mary Lins
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: complete
I'll bet dollars-to-donuts that Hanna Pittard's new historical fiction, "Visible Empire", will be made into a film or TV show/series. It's got tons of cinema-graphic elements (an actual PLANE CRASH fer crying out loud!) plus stir in the current nostalgia for the 1960s and plenty of "rich and beautiful" characters, race-relations and Civil Rights history; well, that's a recipe Hollywood won't pass up.

Based on a true event: a 1962 plane crash in Paris that killed 121 of Atlanta's upper class who w
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
Sorry. Not for me.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I was REALLY looking forward to reading Hannah Pittard”s new book Invisible Empire. Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley, I received a copy in exchange for this honest review.

The book is based on the real-life crash of an Air France flight seconds into takeoff from Orly airport in Paris in 1962. 130 people died, and this backstory provides an amazing number of potential stories of those on the flight as well as their families, friends, loved ones, etc. The characters in the book are
Aerielle Moss
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patricia Romero
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Over 100 art lovers, patrons, and journalists from Atlanta, Georgia have been killed in the horrific crash of Air France at Orly. Leaving behind family and friends to grieve. 

Told from multiple points of view, we follow Robert and his wife Lily. Robert has been a very bad boy and has just told Lily about his affair with a fellow reporter and has been promptly kicked to the curb. Lily is end the last stages of pregnancy when she finds out the next day that she has lost her parents in the crash as
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Hannah Pittard's novel begins with the June 3, 1962, Orly Airport crash of a charter plane carrying 121 of Atlanta's biggest arts patrons, killing all of the passengers and all but 2 of the crew -- but the book is not really about the crash. The scene shifts to Atlanta, where the remainder of the book focuses on the impact of the crash on several Atlanta families and on the city itself as it moves through the early stages of the civil rights movement. It appears all of the characters except Ivan ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, books-i-own
I first heard about Visible Empire on a podcast back in the second half of 2017. Waiting until the summer of 2018 to read it seemed unbearable.

It's fair to say that Visible Empire was one of my most anticipated reads of this year, so I'm a bit confused as to how to even write this review. Looking back, it definitely didn't live up to the high expectations I'd been setting myself up for, but then again, I can't exactly pin down the one reason why I didn't enjoy it as much as I was expecting to. I
Marika Gillis
Visible Empire follows a handful of adults after their family members are killed in a Boeing 707 airplane crash. The victims of the crash were all a part of the elite patrons of Atlanta's art community who were in Europe for a tour of world-renowned art and architecture. Air France Flight 007 really did crash on June 3, 1962 while on take-off from Orly Airport, killing everybody aboard except two flight attendants. This is a fictionalized account of that real-life crash and those left behind.

Jan Thullen
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
The 1962 plane crash that killed 100+ members of Atlanta’s art community sets this story in motion. This is less about the crash and the effect on Atlanta and more about the revelations brought about in the lives of people who lost loved ones and others who are swept up in the aftermath. Drama ensues. This was an initially absorbing story, a quick read that pulled me in.

There are serious themes here: race, privilege, responsibility. Is it a serious book with a potboiler overlay? A lighter read w
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, fiction, netgalley
Hannah Pittard's Visible Empire is a fictionalized account of a real airplane crash that occurred in 1962, affecting the city of Atlanta as 120 citizens from the city - namely people in the arts world - died in the crash as they were returning from a trip to Paris.. The story is told from multiple points of view, including Robert's and Lily's, a married couple who have lost a mistress and parents (respectively) in the crash. Robert loses his ever-loving mind and goes on a bender, leaving his pre ...more
Rachel Colbert
My only wish is that I had a full day to sit down with a tall glass of iced tea and read this in one sitting. Alas, my life did not allow for such an extravagance, but I'll just have to live with that.

When I first heard about the subject of this novel, I was very interested to see how Pittard would handle a true historical fiction. Her writing is always sharp and deeply emotional, revealing an intimate aspect that I've always thought adds a depth to her books. This book is no different.

Her char
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“We're sick of this shit," said Michael. "News people, the mayor and his wife, television shows, the goddamn president of the United States - they're all going on and on about this airplane that went down in Paris, France, on Plant Earth. They jabber on and on about the movers and the shakers, about all the important folks we lost that day. The Reverend himself comes on the radio and tells us that we better behave, that we should hang our heads in sadness at our loss. You know what, though? It isn't our loss. You understand? It isn't our loss at all. It's their loss. We have losses. Every day. Every single day we suffer losses. But no one talks about those. We get no letters of sympathy. We get nothing. Just ignored.” 0 likes
“It was twenty doctors, nine architects, thirteen lawyers, and too many mothers and fathers to count. In short, it felt like everyone because to the mayor's wife, it was everyone, it was everyone she cared about, and they were all gone in a single, heartbreaking, unbelievable whop.” 0 likes
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