Join Kate’s VIP Club Now!

Follow Me

FacebookPinterestTwitter

Kate's Blog

Subscribe RSS

INTERVIEW: Melanie Benjamin author of 'The Aviator's Wife

Friday, June 06, 2014

Please welcome Melanie Benjamin to the blog, answering five quick questions about her new book The Aviator's Wife. 

    


What is 'The Aviator's Wife' all about?
The Aviator’s Wife is a historical novel concentrating on the epic marriage between Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh

           



How did you get the first idea for it?
I thought the early days of aviation would be interesting and romantic, even, to write about.  And the name “Lindbergh” certainly looms over all of those days.  So that was what drew me to further research the lives of Charles and Anne, and hope that they would yield an interesting novel – I think they did!


What do you love most about writing?
I love playing with the language, rearranging the words on the page, primarily.  I also love learning through the research process.

What are the best 5 books you've read recently?
IN COLD BLOOD, DURING THE REIGN OF THE QUEEN OF PERSIA,  THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY, THE ENTERTAINER (MOVIES, MAGIC AND MY FATHER’S TWENTIETH CENTURY), LONGBOURN,
 
What lies ahead of you in the next year?
I hope to finish up my next historical novel.


Melanie Benjamin

Author of THE AVIATOR'S WIFE, a novel of Anne Morrow Lindbergh; ALICE I HAVE BEEN; and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB



SPOTLIGHT: Anne Morrow Lindbergh author of Gifts From the Sea

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Last month I read The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin which is a historical novel inspired by the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Until then, I had not realised that the author of the inspirational book Gift from the Sea was the mother of the kidnapped and murdered Lindbergh baby. 

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was born June 22, 1906 and was a pioneering aviator and the wife of fellow aviator Charles Lindbergh. She wrote many books, spanning from poetry to memoir to non-fiction. On march 1, 1932, their 18 month old baby was kidnapped from their home and sparked a massive investigation that ruined many lives. His body was found the following May, dumped only 6 km away from their house. Its probably one of the most famous -and most tragic - kidnappings in the world.



Gift from the Sea celebrates the need for simplicity, solitude and caring for the soul, and has sold over 3 million copies in 45 languages. It was also the number one non-fiction bestseller in the United States for 1955.

I had long ago given away my copy of 'Gift from the Sea' so I ordered a new copy and read it again. It's a very simple book, yet beautifully written, and contains, I think, a lot of quiet wisdom that really spoke to me in the midst of my frantic writing life. Here are a few of my favourite quotes: 



“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” 
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea


“The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere.” 
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea


“it takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it does to have tried and succeeded.” 

― Anne Morrow Lindbergh


“Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish.” 
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh


 “Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.” 
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea


 “...I want first of all - in fact, as an end to these other desires - to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact - to borrow from the language of the saints -to live 'in grace' as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony...” 
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh


“With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls--woman's normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.” 
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea


 “When you love someone you do not love them, all the time, in the exact same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships.” 
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea


And, finally, a quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's private diaries:


 “One writes not to be read but to breathe...one writes to think, to pray, to analyze. One writes to clear one's mind, to dissipate one's fears, to face one's doubts, to look at one's mistakes--in order to retrieve them. One writes to capture and crystallize one's joy, but also to disperse one's gloom. Like prayer--you go to it in sorrow more than joy, for help, a road back to 'grace'.” 
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, War Within & Without: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1939-1944

Want to know more about her? Read The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin.



BOOK REVIEW: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Monday, June 02, 2014




Title:
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 


PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT – I LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK



BOOK LIST: Books I Read in April 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

One of the fascinating things about keeping a record of what I’ve been reading is seeing the patterns which emerge. This month nearly every single novel I read had a historical setting, and half of them were murder mysteries. I’ve always loved a good murder mystery, particularly if it is set in the past. I do not, however, usually read three of them back to back!

Here’s what I’ve read this month: 


Astor Place Vintage – Stephanie Lehmann
This is a really charming, funny book that moves deftly from modern-day New York to the same city streets in 1907. 

Amanda loves old things – especially shoes and clothes – which she hunts down for herself and for her vintage clothes store, Astor Place Vintage. One day she discovers a diary from 1907, sewn into an ancient fur muff. Reading the diary, she finds herself drawn into the life of Olive Westcott, a young lady who lived in New York City one hundred years ago.

Both narrative threads are really interesting and engaging, and the lives of the two women touch in interesting and unexpected ways. Both are young woman trying to forge their own way, and both have various romantic intrigues that add an extra sparkle to the novel. 






Death Comes as Epiphany – Sharan Newman 
I’ve always had a soft spot for a medieval murder mystery, thanks no doubt to all the Cadfael books I read as a teenager. Sharan Newman is a new author for me (always a risk), but I enjoyed this very much and am planning to get the next in the series. 

The story revolves around Catherine LeVendeur, a headstrong and clever young woman who has been sent to the Convent of the Paraclete, famous for its abbess, the fabled Heloise. When a manuscript created by the convent disappears, Heloise asks Catherien for help in searching it out. For Heloise is afraid that the manuscript will be used to harm her one-time lover, Peter Abelard.

The story rolls along swiftly, with lots of interesting historical details, and a really lovely understated romance. Sharan Newman is a medieval scholar, but her knowledge of the period is never allowed to slow down the plot. 



Death on Blackheath – Anne Perry
I always enjoy the work of Anne Perry, who writes atmospheric and psychologically acute murder mysteries set in Victorian Britain. This is No 29 in her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mystery series – an impressive number! I’ve not read them all, but one day I will sit down and read them all again, back to back, in order, because the growth and change in her major characters is so much an important part of the overarching series narrative. 

This one involves a missing housemaid, the corpses of horribly mutilated women appearing on the heath, and espionage. A brilliant historical murder mystery (but if you haven’t read any other of these, start with Book 1, The Cater Street Hangman.


Elegy for Eddie – Jacqueline Winspear 
Elegy for Eddie is the latest in Jacqueline Winspear’s elegant series of murder mysteries set in 1930s Britain. The books are serious and rather dark in tone, and a great deal of time is spent on the ruminations of the central character, Maisie Dobbs, a lower-class girl who has dragged herself up through the efforts of her own intelligence. At times I wish Jacqueline Winspear would give us more romance, more action, more humour, more sparkle! However, the books are very readable, nonetheless, and the London setting is most atmospheric. 


The Aviator’s Wife - Melanie Benjamin
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. The Aviator’s Wife is a really moving and powerful novel about one woman’s extraordinary life – I strongly recommend it. 


Meanwhile, much of my reading time continues to be taken up with research on Hitler and Nazi Germany, for the new novel I hope to start writing soon. In fear of boring you, I won’t list every book I’ve read … only the best and most interesting. 

Road to the Wolf’s Lair: German Resistance to Hitler - Theodore S Hamerow
This book is an in-depth examination of the men behind the ill-fated Valkyrie plot to assassinate Hitler, and the events which drove them to take such a drastic and dangerous path. It does assume the reader is well acquainted with the story, so should perhaps be read in conjunction with the famous classic account by Allen Welsh Dulles, Germany’s Underground: The Anti-Nazi Resistance. Dulles was OSS chief in Bern, Switzerland, during World War II and was acquainted with many people in the German Resistance. 


In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin – Erik Larson
This is an utterly brilliant and beautifully written account of the life of the American Ambassador and his family in Germany in 1933. William E. Dodd was a mild-mannered history professor, with two Bright Young Things as children. On his appointment and subsequent arrival in Berlin, the Dodd family was at first entranced by the new Germany – everything was so clean, so pretty, so efficient, so well-ordered – and Adolf Hitler and his followers were so full of energy and conviction. Gradually, though, their view of Germany darkened. Dodd became convinced that Hitler planned war, but nobody listened to him. In fact, they thought he was a fool. One of the really illuminating things about this book is the way it shows the slow, gradual, and ultimately horrifying realisation of the depths of Hitler’s depravity. Most people in the world really had no way of knowing what was going on … until it was too late. 


I, Pierre Seal: Deported Homosexual – Pierre Seal
I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs from people who lived through the Second World War, but this is one of the most gut-wrenching I’ve encountered. Pierre was a normal teenage boy just discovering his own sexuality when the Germans invaded his homeland of Alsace-Lorraine. He and other young homosexuals were rounded up, tortured, raped, and sent to a concentration camp. The account of the murder of Pierre’s young lover is just horrifying, and the psychological damage it caused Pierre for the rest of his life moved me to tears. The atrocities committed against homosexuals in Hitler’s Third Reich are not widely known, though there has been a movement in recent years to give voice to those that were deported and killed. A chilling read.  


PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT - I LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

Subscribe RSS

Recent Posts


Tags


Archive


Blogs I Follow