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The Aviator's Wife: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 15, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 2,550 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Melanie Benjamin on The Aviator’s Wife

Dimitri Maex

What was I thinking, writing a novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh?

That is a question I asked myself every time I sat down to work on The Aviator’s Wife.

For Anne Morrow Lindbergh guarded her privacy fiercely and, at times, I felt she was eluding me just to make that point! My other heroines—Alice Liddell in Alice I Have Been and Lavinia Warren Stratton in The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb—gave up their secrets easily, almost eagerly. Anne, however, did not.

But that was what attracted me to her story in the first place—because of how elusive Anne remains to this day. She is known in fragments but never completely. Some are aware of her child’s horrific kidnapping and murder. Others remember her chiefly as the shy, pretty bride of the most heroic man of his time. Many women revere her as an early feminist writer.

But few know her entire story, including her major accomplishments as an aviator in her own right, her grit and determination, her inner strength. Always she seems willing to stand in the tall shadow of her husband, Charles Lindbergh. And it was her marriage that fascinated and obsessed me; this marriage between two extraordinary and very different individuals under the relentless glare of the spotlight. This operatic life they led, through dizzying heights of accomplishment and celebrity to the devastating lows of what Anne always saw as the price they paid for flying too close to the sun.

It seemed to me, as I studied her, standing always slightly behind her husband, that there was a sly smile, a gleam in her eyes that she was always suppressing; a secret strength hidden from the world and even, at times, herself. This was the Anne Morrow Lindbergh whose story I wanted to tell. It’s time for Anne to step out from behind her husband’s shadow once and for all and be the heroine in her own epic story.

Photos from The Aviator's Wife

Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Courtesy of SDAM

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Anne Morrow Lindbergh with Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh with Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. at Next Day Hill, NJ.

Copyright: Lindbergh picture collection, 1860-1980 (inclusive). Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University

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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Benjamin, author of the highly acclaimed Alice I Have Been (2010) and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb (2011), delivers another stellar historical novel based on the experiences of an extraordinary woman. In this outing, she spotlights Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of wildly famous Charles Lindbergh and pioneering aviatrix and accomplished author in her own right. Though their courtship is the stuff of every girl’s romantic fantasy, time and reality combine to reveal a much different story. Plagued by tragedy and often stifled by her domineering husband, she eventually manages to carve out a quasi-independent life and career for herself. Fictional biography at its finest; serious readers may want to pair this with the recently published Against Wind and Tide, the sixth and final volume of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s copious letters and journal entries. --Margaret Flanagan

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (January 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345528670
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345528674
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,550 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Melanie Benjamin takes on one of the greatest heroes of the twentieth century in her new book, "The Aviator's Wife." The story is told by Anne Morrow, soon to become Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Colonel Lindbergh is as handsome and boyish as the newsreels have shown him to be when Anne meets him. She is sure he will fall for her older sister, but to her surprise, he enjoys her quiet company and her willingness to chance an adventure. Though her life as an ambassador's daughter has prepared her for society, Anne is much more comfortable out of the spotlight. The same is true of Charles.

The excesses of a celebrity-mad culture disturb them at every turn. Charles and Anne have to fly to find their peace, their time to feel united in a cause. Once they are on the ground, photographers and reporters make their lives a misery. If they aren't given an interview, they make things up.

Benjamin ably handles the heartbreak of the loss of their first-born son, Charlie, when he is kidnapped. The fog of grief, the lack of privacy, and her husband's determination that he alone can solve the mystery contribute to the crisis in the household. Once the child's body is found, Charles instructs Anne that they must go on. They must not stop and grieve, for it will not bring him back.

Lindbergh comes off as a highly discipline and yet naive man, one who loves airplanes and adventures. He is not someone to hand out compliments or try to feel another's pain. All the while, Anne continues at his side: co-piloting, writing, visiting foreign countries. The Lindbergh accused of being anti-Semitic and a Nazi sympathizer is someone she wishes she didn't know. He brings more trouble to the household.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I found this book remarkable from the beginning to the end. It's the story of a woman trying to find her own voice and her own life. She wanted more than to be the "Ambassador's Daughter", the "Aviator's wife" or the mother of her six children. She accomplished many things on this road and endured tragedy beyond comprehension. In the end, she took charge of her life and responsibility of her actions. She became a mature, grown-up woman.

Anne married a hero and that was a tough choice. The Lindbergh's were hounded by the press in a way that only Princess Di could have empathized with them. She virtually became a prisoner in her own home unable to go out to the theater or to shop. The only time they were free of scrutiny was when they were flying. In the earliest of airplanes, Anne became a pilot, a navigator and Charles' trusted one man crew. The soared before there were Tower controls, other planes, or radio communication. They planned airline routes and explored places that were hard to get to. They were a close couple and Charles called all the shots. Anne just obeyed.

Then children came along and Anne wanted to be with them. Her first child was kidnapped from her home and found murdered months later. They were innudated by well wishers, charlatans, police and, of course, the press. It was an event that marked their lives and forever changed them. They fled America and moved to England. Then Charles became enamored of Germany and Hitler. He spoke out in support of the Nazis and briefly flirted with the idea of living there. By the time the Lindberghs returned to America disillusioned of the Nazis they were shunned. His repeated requests to assist the government were denied until Henry Ford came to his aid.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I knew of the Lindberghs but not the complete story. This book, from Anne's point of view, led me into a marriage not made in heaven. That Lindbergh could be so callous and uncaring of Anne and his family was a surprise to me. I came to understand that she was as enamored of his celebrity as everyone else was. The situation of being left alone to raise her children while he found his life all over the world left me wondering just what it would have taken for her to see him in his true light. The revelation that came to her when he was dying was a final insult to a wonderful woman and mother. This woman went on to live a complete life when his ended. A wonderful book, well written. Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'The Aviator's Wife' is the latest entry in the sub-genre of historical fiction that I call 'The Subjugated Wives of Famous Men Historical Novel'. 'Loving Frank' and 'The Paris Wife' are two other examples about Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright and Mrs Ernest Heminway. The mark of this sub-genre is the bright and educated wife who must struggle to establish her own identity while under the thumb of the famous and domineering husband. In 'The Aviator's Wife' we have the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, shy daughter of the Morrow family. Her father was US ambassador to Mexico when she first meets aviator icon and hero Charles Lindbergh. Later he father will become the US Senator from New Jersey. Anne a Smith graduate who wins two literary prizes while there, lives in the shadow of her gorgeous older sister Elizabeth. This prepares the plainer Anne to live in the shadow of her husband Charles, whose solo flight over the Atlantic makes him the superstar of his age. Lindberg is presented as an emotionally cold and controlling golden boy who ultimately fathers half a dozen illegitimate chilrdren with three other women during his 47 year marraige to Anne.

Anne bemoans endlessly (and irritatingly) how she isn't worthy of the God-like Lindberg and spends her time subjugating her will to his, including writing a pamphlet supporting his pro-Nazi views. The novel is entertaining enough if you can bear the pedestrian writing and the endless repetition. It seems to be well researched and doesn't gloss over Lindbergh's Nazi sympathies in the years leading up to WW 2. The description of the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby is heartbreaking. Finally Anne will emerge as her own person, thankfully. However, for a truly brilliant piece of historical fiction Robert Graves' 'I, Claudius' is still tops.
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