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The Aviator's Wife: A Novel Paperback – November 26, 2013
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Melanie Benjamin on The Aviator’s Wife
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
Courtesy of SDAM
Copyright: Lindbergh picture collection, 1860-1980 (inclusive). Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University
*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 --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Top customer reviews
However, I really grew to dislike both Anne and Charles Lindbergh. I never knew how much I could hate Charles Lindbergh and it was hard to deal with Anne sometimes. I know it was a different time and we tend to look at things through a modern lens, but it was hard for me to deal with a character that just swoons every time she looks at a guy who is verbally abusive and neglectful. I am glad she finally found her strength but overall I would not read this book again just because of the characters and their personality traits.
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin is a fictional version of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s life, focusing on the years she was married to Charles Lindbergh. It was a very turbulent forty five years, for both the Lindbergh’s and the world in general. I found myself fascinated by these “characters” and needing to know more. I’ve since ordered biographies of both Anne and Charles, as well as books authored by each of them.
Anne Morrow was a shy college senior when she was introduced to the heroic, world-renowned aviator in 1927. After a quick courtship and marriage, the newlyweds traveled the globe by air. Charles taught Ann how to fly and she became the first licensed female glider pilot in the country, as well as an expert radio operator and navigator. Together, the first couple of the air set a number of aviation records.
They had it all, until the 1932 kidnapping and murder of their first born child, Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. Following the conviction and execution of the kidnapper, the Lindberghs fled to Europe where they lived in self-imposed, heartbroken exile for a number of years. It was during this time that Charles became an “isolationist” with extremely controversial ideas that many believed were anti-Semitic. The hero was no more.
Running away did little to heal the grief of the bereaved parents. The marriage slowly splintered apart and never fully recovered. Once back in America, both became celebrated authors and their images were somewhat rehabilitated. Anne focused on raising their five children, while Charles traveled the world for “work.” Charles Lindbergh was an expert pilot with unwavering bravery, but he was not necessarily a good man. His family suffered because of his “greatness.” The characteristics that enabled him to make history also kept him from being the man his family needed.
This beautifully written novel paints a glamorous and complicated picture of a vagabond couple who was hunted by the press and who paid the ultimate price for their fame and fortune, without ever really recovering their hearts or their glory. The ending, which my research verified as historically accurate, is a game changer that will make you question how we, as a society, worships our heroes.