Book Review: The Aviator’s Wife

May 10, 2013 Whitney Review 3 Comments

Book Review: The Aviator’s WifeThe Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
Published by Delacorte Press on January 15, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 416
Source: Bought

For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.

Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements—she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States—Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.

Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century—from the late twenties to the mid-sixties—and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator’s Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage—revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows. With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure.

Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis to Paris and his baby was kidnaped. That’s the gist of my knowledge of the Lindberghs. Much has been researched/documented on Charles Lindbergh but what about Lucky Lindy’s co-pilot, his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh? Like her first two novels, Melanie Benjamin gives us a look at a magnificent woman behind the man.

I’m just going to come out and say it, Charles Lindbergh was an ass. I never got the impression that he genuinely cared about others nor did he always take into consideration other people’s needs. It was very much Lucky Lindy’s way or the highway. In short, because of his fame he came off like a spoiled brat.

Two examples of this involve their firstborn Charlie. At a very young age, Charles Lindbergh (senior) practiced the Ferber method on his son. Not just letting him “cry it out” at bedtime but anytime and deprived him of a Mother’s comfort as that would soften him up. Second, during Charlie’s infancy, despite Anne’s misgiving, the two of them hop on his plane and are gone for almost a year exploring the world with Lindbergh trying to regain some of his glory. Also, there is that whole thing about being anti-Semitic and buying into Hitler’s pure race agenda. These heinous believes blackballed him, with the United States losing faith in their hero at a time so desperately needed.

It is also briefly mentioned that Charles Lindbergh went to (if only for a semester) the University of Wisconsin which is where my dad went as well. I mentioned this to him, and told me he was actually embarrassed about that as after reading a biography on the aviator, someone he admired, came up with the same conclusion as me: “Charles Lindbergh was an ass.”

Anne, is the unpopular, plain one in the Morrow family until she is thrown into a whirlwind with the marriage of the century to Charles Lindbergh and immediately becomes a tabloid sensation, with her every move being watched. Anne, is submissive to her husband and (although did find her voice later in life) while I myself am not the most outspoken person found it irksome that this intelligent, college graduate woman would degrade herself so.

Despite that, I found that she was the Lindbergh to look to as a role model. Not only was she fluent in aviation/coordinates but was also the first female to obtain her pilot’s license and a bestselling author to boot. An example of her thoughtful mind is her disagreement on Charles believes in cleansing the Jewish population as Anne just saw them as people looking past the Star of David on their chest. And in spite of it all, I believe Charles admired her too.

Now for the second thing I know about the Lindbergh’s, the kidnapping of Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. when he was only 20 months old. It was heartbreaking to see these events play out not as Mr. and Mrs. Lindbergh but as two parents facing their greatest nightmare, to only have their hopes crushed like their baby’s skull.

I have read several articles on the case and it has been speculated several times that Little Charlie’s father may be to blame, a practical joke gone wrong. If true, it makes it even more horrific. How could one live with themselves?

The Aviator’s Wife is so rich in detail that if I were to describe it all it would be as long as Lucky Lindy’s flight. I will only say that the drenching beautiful storytelling is filled to the brim with discovery. Whether it be sexual orientation or finding your voice, I was flying on cloud nine while indulging in The Aviator’s Wife. Melanie Benjamin shows us that there is so much more to Anne’s story than just Charles Lindbergh’s wife.


3 responses to “Book Review: The Aviator’s Wife

  1. Oh, sounds like an amazing book… I love your review and your writing style, you describe everything so well. 🙂 Oh, and I also love the little P&P quote you have above the comment box, too cute! 🙂 Lovely blog! x

  2. I feel a bit repetitive here…beautifully written review and also love your Louise M Alcott quote!
    So sad that Anne didn't get the recognition she deserved. I would imagine that was the case with many women back in history. I was listening to Elaine's show on the Book Report show on Saturday (The Aviator's Wife was one of the featured books)-it made me realize how little I actually knew about someone who we are all raised seeing as such an icon. I thought your followers may also enjoy the show relating to all things books and author interviews. You can find their station guide and all past shows archived on bookreportradio{dot}com.
    Thanks again for the gorgeous blog!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge