The Aviator’s Wife

The Aviator's WifeThe Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. After a somewhat slow start that had me shelve the book for awhile, when I came back to it I found the story quite fascinating. Is this the authentic voice of Anne Morrow Lindbergh? No. But I’ll judge the book as fiction, not as a biography. It presents a very believable account of a shy and insecure girl who can’t quite believe that Charles Lindbergh, America’s hero, has chosen her to be his wife. At the same time, she is a remarkable woman in her own right, but it takes years for her to find her voice and truly be her own person, not “The Aviator’s Wife.” In a way, her journey represents the journey of all women through the 20th century – from the submissive wife of the 30s, to the independent woman of the war years, to the idealized (but unfulfilled) housewife of the 50s, to the increasing desires of women in the 60s and 70s to exert their independence and their sexuality and “have it all.” I wish the book had continued with Anne’s life after the death of Charles. I think it also underplayed how much she did write – not just Gift From the Sea. Finally, I think the success of this book is evident in the desire of readers to learn more about the “real” Lindberghs after reading this novel.

Book description: 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.

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