If it wasn’t for domestic violence, Mandy Smith might never have become a flight attendant.
It was a summer night in 1999 when she’d gone out with her then-boyfriend to a concert where he immediately disappeared, presumably to buy drugs. Angry and fed up, Smith told him she was breaking up with him and, in a rage, he beat her bloody.
Days later, a co-worker offered Smith sympathy and an idea: he’d just been hired as a pilot for Virgin Atlantic, and he knew they were hiring “stewardesses.” He urged her to go for it – and why not? She was young, gorgeous and newly footloose. She applied, passed her tests with flying colors and received her iconic red uniform.
On her first long assignment (to New York City), she knew she’d found her dream job. Shopping was fabulous. Parties there, and in every city where Virgin Atlantic had a hub, were non-stop: fancy food, alcohol, nudity, pranks and new acquaintances.
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Some were acquaintances she slept with, after breaking up with yet another boyfriend.
Though flying to exotic locations was a great perk (getting there really could be half the fun!), there were downfalls to the job. One of those was not seeing the people she loved for weeks on end. Smith indicates that passengers could be a challenge, too, but they were also another source for more parties, more dates, more fun – although even the best of times can get old after awhile of turbulence, terrorism and loneliness.
Smith wanted more out of life. She wanted love. And so, after 12 years of being a “trolley dolly,” Smith says, “It was time for me to hang up that red skirt and move on.”
Oh, I scarcely know where to begin.
Let’s start here: I liked this book. I liked it because it was fluffy and rompy, a Britishism-filled, cotton-candy, end-of-summer read.
Sadly, that’s also a major drawback to “Cabin Fever.”
Indeed, there’s not a lot of solidity in this book, unless you count the sex: author Mandy Smith (with Nicola Stow) doggedly writes about sex on planes, the beach, pools, in hotels, pages and pages of four-letter-worded explicitness, which gets tiresome and disappointing and may infuriate readers who’ve fought hard to overcome old “Coffee Tea or Me” stereotypes. Yes, I believe you could be forgiven for wondering if there’s just a little embellishment going on here, and you might roll your eyes. I know I did.
And yet – I was amused. I didn’t expect a lot here, but what I got was OK. And if that’s the kind of summer’s-almost-over book you need, “Cabin Fever” is what you’ll want to see.
At a glance
Title | “Cabin Fever: The Sizzling Secrets of a Virgin Flight Attendant”
Author | Mandy Smith with Nicola Stow
Publisher | Plume
Length | 304 pages
Cost | $16/$18 Canada