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BOOK REVIEW: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Aviator’s Wife

Author: - Melanie Benjamin

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Age Group & Genre: Historical Fiction for Adults

Reviewer: Kate Forsyth

Source of Book: I bought it 

The Blurb:
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.

What I Thought: 
The Lindberghs were incredibly famous in their day, both for their feats of flying, and for the kidnap and murder of their first child. This beautifully written novel reimagines the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh from the time of her first encounter with the handsome but controlling aviator Charles Lindbergh to his death. It deals with his infatuation with the Nazis, the terrible months following their boy’s kidnap, and the writing of Anne’s own book, ‘Gift from the Sea’, which I remember reading as a teenager. 

Not being American, I did not know much about the Lindbergs except their name and the fact their first child was kidnapped and murdered. I found this novel really fascinating as it draws in so much about the period. I came to realise just how extraordinary their feats of flying were, and how extraordinary it was for Anne to write ‘Gifts from the Sea’, a book of such beauty and grace, after suffering such a horrible tragedy. 

The book is deftly written and a real page-turner – I devoured it in several sittings. It reminded me of Nancy Horan’s books Loving Frank and Under A Wide, Starry Sky in that it is a book about a woman who has lived her life in the shadow of a man but whose own story is just as compelling 
The Aviator’s Wife is a really moving and powerful novel about one woman’s extraordinary life – I strongly recommend it. 

Writer’s website 


Alethea commented on 02-Jun-2014 05:57 AM
As a child I saw a tv detective-type show about the Lindbergh baby kidnap case (I won't leave my son's bedroom window open as a result) but had no idea about Anne's achievements. This will definitely go on my list of must reads.
Kate Forsyth commented on 10-Jun-2014 12:07 PM
I do hope you enjoy it as much s I did!

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