The Aviator's Wife: A Novel

by Melanie Benjamin

Hardcover, 2013

Call number




Delacorte Press (2013), Edition: First Edition, 416 pages


Despite her own major achievements--she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States--Anne Morrow Lindbergh is viewed merely as Charles Lindbergh'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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Liz1564
This is an Early Reviewer copy. Thank you.

This engrossing novel by Melanie Benjamin is a historical novel about Ann Morrow, Smith graduate and the daughter of an Ambassador and a feminist, who became the aviator's wife when she married Charles Lindbergh. There are only hints in the novel about Anne's early life. The novel begins when she meets Lindbergh at the American embassy in Mexico City in 1927 and ends with his death in 1974. Her first twenty years and final 25 years as a widow are not within the scope of this book. Nor should it be. That story will be told at another time.

I felt as though I had crept into Anne's head and was really seeing the events through her eyes and understanding her joy, frustration, fear and anger. For there seems to be more more of the latter three as she adjusts to the role of the hero's wife even while she feels herself diminished and at the same time uplifted in her marriage. She knows that she has reached heights no woman ever dreamed of....a pilot's licence, solo flights in planes and gliders, stellar navigation knowledge, journey's to the far corners of the world. And life with the greatest hero of the twentieth century. A traditional upper class marriage certainly would have been easier. She would have had wealth; she had that from her father even if she not married. She would have had children, but her baby would not have been the victim of the crime of the century. She would have had the cultural society she craved instead of being isolated by fame and politics. The Anne in this novel is constantly questioning her decisions.

When Anne meets Lindbergh she is a brilliant and shy younger daughter. He senses that she would be the right wife, his co-pilot and crew when she does not get air sick and is exhilerated when he takes her up in his plane one early Sunday morning. There begins a strange noncourtship which ends in a proposal. He has found a willing acolyte and she is marrying a man who can make her tremble in the air and on the ground. The fact that the press keeps assuming that Lindbergh is courting Anne's beautiful, lively older sister illustrates how Anne can fade into the background. Charles sets the pattern for this marriage when on the first day of their honeymoon, he scolds her for oversleeping and tells her exactly what she will make him for breakfast while he works with his aviation charts. And so it goes. She has some of the greatest adventures but she is always the crew.

The tragic kidnapping and death of their first child further strains the marriage. Charles refuses to show emotion and becomes angry when she continues to mourn. He never mentions the baby's name and refers to his death as "the events of 1932." Anne must hide the box of memories from her husband. The rift is never healed, although they have five more children. Only later does Anne realize that Charles thought his "seed" too important to waste. And she realizes that he did believe in racial purity, was anti-Semitic, admired not just German technology but Hitler and all he stood for. Why did she agree to write an essay about how they both admired Nazi Germany, an essay so disturbing that her alma mater Smith wrote her a letter and asked that she stop referring to herself as a Smith graduate? For years she ponders this black deed and admits that she still believed in her husband the hero, even when she sees how it devastated her beloved mother and those she cared about.

Anne is a wonderful mother. She has to be. Lindbergh is an absent father, spending more and more time from the 1950's and until hs death on business ventures around the world. And, she discoveres, early in the novel, in fathering seven children with three German mistresses. The Lindbergh seed must not be wasted. (The novel is seamlessly told in a series of flashbacks.) It is Anne, isolated on a rural estate, who loves her children and they adore her even while they have to learn to be the children of the great hero and have to learn about the death of their older brother in a history book. Lindbergh forbad Anne to tell the children. On his brief visits home. usually unannounced, he regiments his children with endless lists of things they have to finish. Only when he disappears for the next months do they all relax and become a normal family again. And it the way that he affects her children that causes Anne to finally see the terribly flawed man she always knew was right in front of her.

So she becomes herself again, no longer just the aviator's wife. She is Anne the writer, Anne the mother, Anne the culture seeker, Anne the lover. She is Anne MORROW Lingbergh.

The novel. covering the above events with so many nuances and shades, is brilliant and beautiful. My review cannot do it justice. Go read this book!
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LibraryThing member maggie1944
A historical novel based on good research which made it quite believable. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was married to Charles Lindbergh, famous pioneer pilot who flew over the Atlantic Ocean, solo, for the first time. The Lindberghs also were famous due to their first born child being kidnapped, and murdered. The novelist wrote from the wife's POV making the descriptions of the couple's life very poignant. At first, I reacted to the novel as if it was a romance novel written for young adults but I learned later that it read that way because in her early life Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a romantic young woman, an ambassador's daughter. As the novel progressed it did become more sophisticated and complex, as did her life. In the end I was very glad to have read the book and I do recommend it, especially for small book groups who enjoy talking about women's lives.… (more)
LibraryThing member Whisper1
This is the #1 book of the year for me. I couldn't put it down! Historical fiction has always been my choice of reading. This book brought me back to this genre.

Narrated from Ann Morrow Lindbergh's point of view, we learn her strength, her weakness (staying with a cad for so many years while he left his family alone, with no contact information for long, long periods of time), and the reader learns of the sharp, determined, egocentric, controlling, self centered hero, Charles Lindbergh.

While he roamed the world, admonishing her grief when their first born was kidnapped and killed, Ann stayed behind as five more children were born and raised by her.

She was a strong, intelligent woman who was the first female to obtain a pilot's license. Taught by Charles in a demanding fashion, she soon learned to navigate both with instruments, and by Polaris, the bright constant star.

Despite her growing anger and longing to claim her individuality, Charles remained her constant star throughout the many years of their marriage.

The mark of great historical fiction challenges the reader to learn more, to separate the facts from the fiction. Melanie Benjamin does an amazing job of this!

While the author writes of Ann's supreme anger, dismay of betrayal when, before Charles' death, she discovered there were three German mistresses with whom he sired a total of seven children, in fact, I researched to learn that it was their children, who when contacted by their half siblings, discovered their father's other lives, long after Ann's death.

Mainly, I was in awe of the author's ability to paint Ann's feelings of love and hate of the hero Charles Lindbergh. And, haven't we all felt that at times in our lives, ie the longing to be loved, the disappointment in ourselves when we know we have loved too much to receive so very little in return?
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LibraryThing member Quiltinfun06
I wasn't entirely happy with The Aviators Wife but I was excited to learn about a man of history. Of course, I knew a bit about Charles Lindbergh but I realize now only very little. I certainly knew nothing about his wife Anne Morrow. What a sad story. I was extremely moved at their loss of baby Charlie. His kidnapping and murder was heart wrenching. My dislike for Charles grew page by page. Anne's story started at the end and worked back to the beginning and so I knew that there obviously was infidelity. I was not prepared for it to be so powerful.

My overall feeling was that the story was powerful and revealing. However, I felt that Benjamin's writing was a bit lacking. It was too simply written . I expected much more from her. This book has been compared to The Paris Wife and Loving Frank. Both of those books were better written and far more interesting. I appreciated Anne's story but was unimpressed by Benjamin.
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LibraryThing member samfsmith
An introspective novel, examining the life of Anne Lindbergh, the wife of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. The first celebrity couple in US history, they captured the imagination of millions at the dawn of aviation and broadcast radio. The novel is fiction, of course, and examines the innermost thoughts of Anne as she copes with life in the shadow of her legendary husband, the death of her child, the notoriety of his anti-semitism and pro-nazi stance before WWII, and the revelation of his many affairs and illegitimate children.

It is fascinating reading, if a little too introspective for my taste. Anne is portrayed as continually questioning her marriage, while still acquiescing to everything her husband asks of her. Understandable actions on Anne's part, given the times that she lived in. At times I wished the novel would deal more directly with the action of the characters lives, rather than simply reflecting events as Anne attempted to decipher their meaning.
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LibraryThing member pjhess
Another well written historical fiction by Melanie Benjamin. If you haven't read her other books you really should.
This was an excellent telling of Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne. All I really knew about Charles was his flight across the Atlantic in 1927 and the kidnapping of their son in 1932. In this book Melanie tells us the story of Anne. A strong and courageous woman who loved her husband and stood in his shadow much of her life.
The author in the author's notes at the end of the book states "As a historical novelist, the most gratifying thing I hear is that the reader was inspired, after reading my work of fiction, to research these remarkable people's lives further." Melanie I am inspired to read more about both Charles and Anne and I thankyou for the chance to review your novel.
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LibraryThing member SilversReviews
Anne Morrow the quiet, unassuming daughter. Anne Morrow the shy sister of Elisabeth Morrow who hid in Elisabeth's shadow. Anne Morrow the woman no one thought would marry before her beautiful sister, Elisabeth married. Anne Morrow.....who did marry and who married a famous man....Charles Lindbergh, behind whom she continued to be a shadow.

Anne's life was beautifully detailed by Ms. Benjamin in terms of Anne's feelings and personality especially during the kidnapping. The era was nicely portrayed as well. It covered how women from wealthy families went to prestigious schools and never used their education, but were expected to be the perfect wife and mother. Ms. Benjamin will definitely get you involved in the story through her outstanding, exceptional, in-depth writing style.

I enjoyed reading about the era and about Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh. I would not have wanted to live Anne's life, though...she had no life of her own per say. She had to follow Charles on his adventures, be his wife, be in the public eye, and heartbreakingly leave her children. Despite all of this, she willingly allowed him to control her and willingly backed him no matter what. Anne did come out of the shadows as she aged and was actually a very strong woman.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but don't think a man would enjoy it simply because of the domestic factors and the details of Anne Morrow's family and all of their lives. It is more geared toward women and the feelings and beliefs we as women share and that we like to know about other women's lives....especially famous ones. Anne, Charles, and the Morrow family led very interesting lives. I, as I am sure you will do, found myself looking up information on the life of the Morrows and Lindberghs just as the author said we would. :) ENJOY!!! 5/5

I won this book in a giveaway on LibraryThing with no compensation and simply a request for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member bookwoman247
This is a fictional account of the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of Charles Lindbergh.
Benjamin certainly succeeded in making Anne Morrow Lindbergh a person in her own right; in bringing her out of the shadow of her famous husband, and out of the shadow of historical events.

This was an easy, quick, enjoyable read.

To be honest, there were a couple of disappointments.

The first was due to my own expectations. I had hoped for more focus on Anne's own adventures and travels.

Second, the growth of the character was exceptionally well-written, but, otherwise, the writing seemed a bit less than stellar. It wasn't bad, but just not outstanding.

Still, it was a pleasure to read, especially as the character grew.
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LibraryThing member KarenHerndon
Well, at first I thought I didn't like this book - but I finally realized it wasn't the book but what I saw as the "whineyness " of Ann herself that I disliked. That poor me, the less attractive daughter, the one that no one noticed
attitude and her complete worships of Charles. I just wanted to shake her! As the story unfolded I was finally able to accept her as she was, in her time and space realizing that I, myself in my seventies, had exhibited some of her same characteristics at least related to how subservient I was in my relation with my husband- much like Ann. I, also, found my own way eventually. And I guess that is what much of this book is about, Ann finding herself finally.
The only thing I knew about the Lindberghs was his Paris flight and their child being kidnapped and killed so this was a real eye opener and I have to say I loved ths book in the end (although I still wanted to shake her and wished she had exposed Charles for the kind of man he really was).
I certainly would recommend this book to my reading friends who are interested I this kind of historical fiction.
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LibraryThing member DMO
I admit it--I had only ever heard of Anne Morrow Lindbergh as the wife of Charles Lindbergh and the mother of a child who was tragically murdered. This novel, told from her point of view, is the story about how such an accomplished women lived in the very long shadow cast by her husband, about how she chafed at living with such a complicated, controlling individual and eventually came to re-discover her own voice as a writer and woman.

Melanie Benjamin does an impressive job of creating this woman and the world she lived in for the reader. The Lindberghs fought off paparazzi throughout their married lives, and this book evokes vividly the scary aspects of living such a public life. At the same time, though, the intimate moments that Anne describes in the book are believable and provide insight into this marriage. I highly recommend this book and will seek out other books by this author.

Thanks so much to the ER program for providing this book.
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LibraryThing member KatyBee
The Aviator's Wife is a fine portrait of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a hero in her own right who endured a marriage to one of the most famous men in America and a tragic crime committed against her family. This novel is clear-eyed and is neither sensational or romantic. It does share credible images of what life might have been like for this intelligent, talented woman in her time and place in history.

A mark of a good novel might be that it sends the reader to seek out non-fiction books about the same subject and indeed, this book did just that. After perusing many real photos of Anne and her family members, the author, Melanie Benjamin, is to be complimented for her true, well-rounded descriptions. I found the history refreshing and the relationship fascinating as seen from the woman's point of view.
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LibraryThing member Carolee888
'The Aviator's Wife' by Melanie Benjamin is very fast and emotional read. I was overwhelmed me by the sharp historical details of the reactions of the public to Lucky Lindbergh's flight. There was the ever present popping of flash bulbs, the rude remarks by the public and the terrible realization that you and your family could never be safe when in the public eye.

This book is not about Charles Lindberg although Anne Morrow's life would have never been the same if she hadn't married her hero. Anne grew up being her daddy's "good girl", eager to please and dependable to a fault. This causes her great anguish until she was finally able to emerge a truly confident woman who did not have to hide her feelings and thoughts.

Instead of book full of facts and dates like a regular biography, Melanie Benjamin wrote one based on her interpretation of Anne's emotional reaction to the important events in her life and what being married to Charles Lindberg must have been like. I love this form of biography. I felt the pain that Anne felt when people called her Mrs. Lindberg, although she was a Smith graduate, had a pilot's license, could do celestial navigation and had so many achievements like being the first woman to fly a glider.

Anne Morrow Lindberg's feelings of self-hatred were easily evident when she hid her true feeling when meeting the Gorings at the 1936 Summer Olympics and heard discussions about the purity of the Nordic Race. Her father was half Jewish so that made it even more painful.

Her pain was excruciating when her son was taken from her and the publicity surrounding the event was so heartbreaking that it hurt to read about it. She had joys in her life but the tragedies made them seem so rare and sparking like the dew on the grass. Before reading this book, I had previously read Anne Morrow's famous book, 'Gift from the Sea' and also book about Charles Lindberg (the title long forgotten. This book was different; it made me understand her life and the emotional torture that she went through.

I am very grateful that Melanie Benjamin wrote this book. I would recommend this book to all women and to men who want to know and understand women better. In fact, I think I even understand myself better after reading this book.

I received this Advance Reading Copy of `The Aviator's Wife" from the Amazon Vine Program and that in no way influenced my thoughts.
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LibraryThing member TheNovelWorld
Melanie Benjamin is another author who requires only a short review. This is her third book, following her trend of historical fiction based on actual historical figures. The Aviator’s Wife takes a look at Anne Lindbergh, one half of the famous Lindbergh pair of the early 20th Century. Although I didn’t like this book as much as The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, The Aviator’s Wife was still a gripping tale of one woman’s struggle to define herself, while stuck in the shadows of greatness that defined her husband and her family. I found Anne to be a genuine person, with flaws and ambition like the rest of us. At times I was frustrated with her for not standing up to her bully of a husband more, but then I realized that she wasn’t raised in a culture that embraced woman’s rights. Her struggles and achievements are an inspiration. The book is well paced, and although Benjamin does focus on the “Trial of the Century” of the kidnapping and murder of her first born, it is not the marrow of the novel. Rather, its a short snippet of the long life lived by the pair.… (more)
LibraryThing member melaniehope
The Aviator's Wife is the little known story of Charles Lindbergh's wife, Anne. Before reading this, I only knew a bit of the Lindbergh story and it was either about famous Charles, or the kidnapping of his son in the 1930s.
This was a great book to read and discover the real Lindbergh's away from the publicity and limelight. But really this book was about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She was the shy daughter of an ambassador who married Charles. I definitely saw a different side to this American hero. He was cold, emotionally unattached and frequently away from home. It seems he chose Anne as his wife because he believed they would create well bred children and because Anne was easy to manipulate and mold into the person he needed in his life at that time. I did not realize Anne was also a pilot, an author and that she accompanied her husband on so many world wife trips via plane. This book shows us what is may have been like for Anne to be married to such an icon and how she coped. Slowly, she begins to become her own person. It isn't until the end of her life that she may have realized all along that she was the strength in her marriage to Charles and not the other way around. Wonderful book on a a very interesting part of our history. I definitely recommend this!… (more)
LibraryThing member Beamis12
Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne are the subject of this new novel by Benjamin. Have to say that she most definitely did not portray Charles in a positive light, in fact he was not a very nice man at all. Very full of himself and his fame. Anne, had always been the good and responsible daughter, when Charles asks her to marry him she thinks she is the luckiest person alive. I tried to remind myself that back then women were subject to the wants of their husbands and divorce in the upper circles was not readily accepted. Despite this I did not much like Anne either, though I did feel sorry for her. The kidnapping of her son was beyond horrific and the bungling of this situation by her husband even worse still. Despite that they go on to have a marriage and more children. The fact that she has made me feel all this while reading this book is to the author's credit. I do think in places the story dragged a bit but all in all this was an interesting story on the life of two famous and interesting people. Love that Benjamin brings to light characters not over written in history, by this I mean Anne not Charles. Looking forward to seeing what this author will tackle next. ARC by publisher.… (more)
LibraryThing member JessiAdams
I have to admit that I really didn't know anything about the Lindberghs prior to reading this novel. Benjamin sticks to the facts as much as possible regarding historical events, although most of the interaction between the characters is fiction, of course. The first 70% of this book was just so/so for me. The story was good, but I wasn't really engaged. It wasn't until Benjamin pulled it together in the final 30% ish and related her perceptions of Anne Lindbergh to Anne's book that I really thought the book came together. Benjamin writes beautifully in Anne's voice about the lives of married women, and how they often have feelings and secrets that they hide from everyone, even those closest to them. This is the focus of the final portion of the book; if I had any complaint it would be that she shouldn't have taken so long to get there.… (more)
LibraryThing member MillieHennessy
Once again I thoroughly enjoyed another of Melanie Benjamin's novels. This time she captured the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of Charles Lindbergh, and gave us insight into the life of the woman often overshadowed by her husband's accomplishment.

Honestly, I knew nothing about the Lindberghs (I don't remember even learning about them in school!) so this story was pretty new to me. The way Benjamin shaped the characters had me interested from the very first page. To watch Anne change from shy graduate to blushing bride, to daring avaitrix and meek wife, and finally into her own woman, was a pleasure to read. I found myself constantly rooting for Anne, even when she was letting Charles push her around.

This story also gave me an idea of the impact that the media had back then on the Lindbergh's lives (probably an even more pressing presence than the media today) and I was horrified at some of the events the couple had to endure because of the media, especially the very public kidnapping of their first child. The fact that Anne came out of all that as as stronger person made me love her character even more.

I highly recommend this book and Benjamin's others.
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LibraryThing member Loried
I received this book through the Early Reviewers program, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a fast read, and I learned a lot of history in a very easy way. I found it beautifully written, and it was very informative as well. I would recommend it to book groups as it brings up a lot of interesting issues regarding marriage, motherhood and feminism.… (more)
LibraryThing member cuicocha
This fictional autobiographical memoir moves rapidly through the courtship and marriage of Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow. Focusing on specific selected aspects of their lives together and eliminating much of the minutia, the author cobbles together a tight, fast moving story that brings the reader to an understanding of the Lindberghs and their exceptional triumphs and heartaches.

While Charles Lindbergh was the ideal of courage who was capable of facing every challenge, the story reveals his failings as well as successes as it does also with Anne. The examination of the latter, however, brings the reader to a greater understanding of a character who is presented as one who goes far behind her insecurities and becomes a pillar of strength for her husband, for her family, and for herself.

This is a well written novel that keeps the reader involved and immersed in the story.
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LibraryThing member JackieBlem
I've been a fan of Melanie Benjamin since I met her shortly before her first book, Alice I Have Been, was published. And I've read and loved quite a bit by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Gift From the Sea) and her daughter, Reeve (No More Words as well as many, many children's books). Imagine how profound my delight was to read a book by Melanie about Anne and her family. Not a single page disappointed, and I truly believe that this is Benjamin's best book yet. Her meticulous historical research sets a vibrant scene for the drama and trauma of being Charles Lindbergh's wife. Anne lived in the shadow of her husband until the day he died--and kept his secrets even longer. Yet she became a pilot herself (co-piloting with her husband and solo), as well as a one of the first licensed radio operators, a navigator and the first American woman to earn a glider pilot's license. Plus she edited her husband's Pulitzer Prize winning book (The Spirit of St. Louis) and wrote a best seller of her own. She survived the kidnapping and death of her first son to go on to raise a brood of five other children, mostly on her own as Charles was often away for wars, work, or adventure. The remarkable life she led, and all that she helped pioneer, makes for a book that will not let you put it down. This is a truly amazing read. Trust me, you don't want to miss it.… (more)
LibraryThing member Jaylia3
I’ve been fascinated by Anne Morrow Lindbergh since I encountered the first of her published diaries. Though somewhat shy and with a literary bent, after marrying Charles Lindbergh she learned to fly a plane so she could roam the world with her heroic but domineering husband. There are many books by and about her and I’ve read most of them so I wasn’t sure I would be interested in a fictional version of her life, but I enjoyed this book immensely. Author Melanie Benjamin captures both the wonders and heart rending realities of being married to the kind of man who earns well deserved fame through dogged determination, a control freak’s insistence on attention to detail and a strong sense that his ways are the only right ways. The reflective Anne she portrays, who gradually develops her voice as she grows in strength and self understanding throughout the book, mainly rings true to me. Ranging in time from the late 1920’s until Charles Lindbergh’s death in 1974, The Aviator’s Wife encompasses some of the more interesting history of the last century. My only complaint, which is mild, is the cover picture. That tall, cool, model thin woman looks nothing like Anne, either in actual appearance or spirit.… (more)
LibraryThing member mpmills
The Aviator's Wife takes a look at the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of Charles Lindbergh. She married a hero, but ended up with someone quite different. I had read a biography of Charles Lindbergh, and so I knew what kind of man he was, but it was still hard to read how his actions affected Anne and his family. The Chapter about the kidnapping of their son was heart-wrenching. The novel follows Anne as she grows to finally be a strong woman who can stand up to Charles. Thanks for the chance to read this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member hellonicole
Having never really read much about the Lindberghs other than what I learnt in school, etc. I had no expectations going into The Aviator's Wife. I was pleasantly surprised to find the story of Anne Lindbergh quite engrossing, and well written. It spurred me to seek out some nonfiction writing for more information.
LibraryThing member missjomarch
This is the first book I've received and reviewed as an Early Reviewer on this site. While I didn't know much about the Lindbergh's before I read this book, the result of having read and learned what I have has definitely peaked my interest to research more about this couple. This fictional/historical story is of Charles Lindbergh told in the voice of his wife Anne. It chronicled their life together and the historical events that surrounded their lives. Anne was a traditional wife married to a modern historical icon and told of her challenges, advantages and heartbreak being the wife to such a man. The interpretation of the kidnapping of their oldest son which was considered the crime of the century, and the aftermath that followed was dominant to the fate of their marriage.This book was beautifully written and the best type of book that is both an easy read contains enough substance to keep you engrossed until the end.… (more)
LibraryThing member LoisCK
I received this book through the Early Reviewer Program shortly after reading "The Paris Wife" by Paula McClain with my book club. It is the fictionalized story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. It is the author's imagined story from Hadley's point of view of life during those heady days in Paris which Ernest Hemingway describes beautifully in "A Moveable Feast". My suggestion: read "A Moveable Feast", not “The Paris Wife”.
This book, "The Aviator's Wife" by Melanie Benjamin, is very similar as it is the imagined view of what Anne Morrow Lindbergh's life during her arduous marriage to the superhuman, Charles Lindbergh, might have been like. What is fiction and what is fact gets a bit muddled although Ms. Benjamin explains: “It’s the emotional truths that I imagine; the relationships, the reasons these historical figures do the things they do.” Not sure how they can be “emotional truths” when she is stating that those are the parts she has made up – they can’t be truths of any kind. Ms. Benjamin goes on to write: “I truly believe that the inner life can be explored only in novels, not histories – or even diaries and letters. For diaries and letters are self-censored even at the moment of writing them; it’s impossible to be absolutely honest with oneself”. While it is true that letters and diaries are self-censored they certainly can bring emotional understanding to a reader who comes to them educated from other biographical works.
Ms. Benjamin plots the story around a scene at the end of Charles’ life when Anne is give some letters from a nurse that reveal that Charles has had seven children with three European women during his marriage to Ann. This information did not come to light until more than 30 years after his death in 1974 and there is no evidence that Anne knew about them. But Ms. Benjamin states “I think she did know” and proceeds to include deathbed screaming and crying interspersed throughout the novel in flash forwards from the chronological story. She also creates a scene of their first meeting when Charles takes Anne flying in the middle of the night. Both of these scenes are extremely emotional….but they are fiction.
Personally, I have a problem with historical fiction. I’d rather read nonfiction and learn the facts; read works by that person if they exist to get the nuance; and imagine my own version of what their “real life” was like. So, I suggest that you read Anne Morrow Lindberg’s wonderful books from letters and diaries and some of her accounts of flying with Charles. She is an insightful and engaging writer and you will come to appreciate her difficult life. Her most popular book “Gift from the Sea” is a great gift for all of your female friends. I have read it every couple of years since my mother gave it to me. It has spoken to me as a young woman, a mother, a wife and now as a retiree. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a wise woman. I do not think that the version of her presented in this book is the one that I would have written after reading her books and factual accounts of her life.
If you enjoy historical fiction, you might like this book. Just remember, it’s fiction.
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