Rummanah Aasi
   One of the books I have recommended picking up for Spring Break was The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. The book has received many glowing reviews. I knew very little about the Lindberghs except for the kidnapping of their first child in 1932. I enjoyed the book's historical detail and highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction.


Description: 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.

Review: The Aviator's Wife pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary and famous couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Readers anticipating an idyllic romance between Anne and Charles will be disappointed as Benjamin doesn't hold anything back from their troubled marriage.
  The story begins when Anne, the self-effacing daughter of a suffragette and an ambassador, is surprised when Charles, already a celebrity thanks to his first trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, asks her--instead of her blonde, outgoing older sister Elisabeth--to go flying with him. Anne, who is always in the shadow of her sister, is absolutely shocked when Charles proposes. She believes the marriage is a dream come true, which at first is true.  The honeymoon phase of their marriage consists of flights all over the world: Anne becomes a pilot and navigator and Charles' indispensable sidekick. Due to couple's celebrity status, they are constantly hunted down by the paparazzi. Charles, a man who liked his privacy yet believed his celebrity status was his self-right, wanted to stay out of the limelight.
  In 1932 the marriage crestfallen when the Lindberghs' first child is kidnapped from his nursery, the resulting press furor almost destroys Anne. Charles has put on a front that he can deal with this tragedy while he leaves his wife to face her grief on her own. Anne suffers the downside of fame as public adulation turns to prurient sensationalism. Charles, wanting to leave the trial and the memories of the kidnapping, convinces Anne to take refuge abroad, where they enjoy the orderly routine and docile press of the Hitler regime, as long as Charles is willing to accept a Nazi medal and attend rallies. However, Kristallnacht proves too much even for Lindbergh's anti-Semitism, and he and Anne return to the States as war threatens. As more children arrive, Anne is beginning to bridle at Charles' domineering ways, however the aspiring author is too insecure to contradict him even as he offends her liberal friends and family by siding with right-wing groups who claim that the Jews are trying to force America into war.
  Benjamin's primary focus is on Anne's evolution from submissive helpmate into the author of the feminist classic Gift from the Sea. The character growth steadily builds once she consciously decides that she will no longer live in the shadows of her famous husband. I was surprised by the extremely unsympathetic portrayal of Charles. I didn't know much about him before reading this book but I do remember how much he was adored by the country. Instead of making him a one dimensional villain, Benjamin makes him three dimensional and sheds light on his both domineering and vulnerable aspects of his life. As much as he hated being a celebrity, he yearned for prestige, honor, and accolades. He felt all of his hard work was completely wiped-out because of a personal tragedy which he never got over. Self-exiling to Germany and upholding unpopular political views during the buildup to World War II was his attempt to regain what he had once lost.
  There are plenty moments of suspense, especially where the kidnapping and trial of the Lindbergh's first child is concerned to keep the plot moving. I enjoyed watching Anne grow though I may not entirely agree with how she lived her life. After finishing the Aviator's Wife, I wanted to look up and read more about the Lindberghs, which to me is always a good sign of a historical fiction done well.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, sexual situations along, ethnic slurs with disturbing images. Recommended for mature teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, Z : a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.
7 Responses
  1. I've been hearing good things about this one too. My mother just bought it for my grandma. I'm definitley more interested in reading it after seeing your review.


  2. I was eyeing this when I was on my historical fiction kick. I know very little about the Lindberghs either and I am very curious about it. One of these days when I have more free time I will check this out! So glad to hear it was a good read!


  3. I actually love that Melanie Benjamin didn't hesitate to show their marriage as it really way. I know next to nothing about Lindberghs, but the great reviews, the realism and the character evolvment are all great reasons to pick this up and soon.
    Lovely review!


  4. I'm still so curious about the Lindberghs, despite reading a ton of information on them in one of my college history classes. I think you're right that historical fiction is really working when it makes you eager to learn more about the subject/time period. Glad you enjoyed this! I think this is definitely a me read, so I'll have to grab it on my trip to the bookstore this weekend. Wonderful review!


  5. I always look up historical characters too if I've read a good historical fiction novel :) I actually don't know anything about the Lindberghs so it's interesting to hear a little about them. I'm probably going to see what I can find out about them on Wikipedia now.


  6. It's so funny, not in a laughable way, but strange what the history books and our teachers hide from us as they taught us when I was growing up. Lindbergh was a hero and nothing less. I love the honesty of the author. I definitely think I need to read this book. I don't usually read biographies, but I'm sure this one will hold my interest. Awesome review!


  7. Sally W Says:

    Wow, what an incredible sounding story! Have always been a fan of historical fiction, yet know so little about the Lindberghs. I heard an excerpt from the audio book on The Book Report this past weekend, which tweaked my interest, thus bringing me here. As a fellow book fan, I thought you may like to take a listen to the show; not sure if it’s still to be aired in another part of the country, but both the station schedules and recordings of the show can be found on their site (bookreport(dot)com). A great source of info you have here-thank you.


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