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The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

The Aviator's Wife

by Melanie Benjamin

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1,1511397,081 (3.84)1 / 53
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I found The Aviator's Wife to be exactly what it was intended to be - a look inside the very full, often complicated life and heart of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The images of her questioning, struggling, going through the motions, and ultimately coming into her own were powerful reminders of how far American women have had to come in the last century. We were, and often still are, defined by our relationships to others - daughters, wives, mothers. Anne's journey can inspire women of today to accelerate the process and perhaps not lose ourselves in the first place. I cried numerous times, feeling a kinship to Anne in her marriage struggles and am enormously thankful that times have changed! Not to belittle Mr. Lindbergh's significant accomplishments and contributions to air and space travel; but as a person, he was misguided and so often so very wrong. Anne was indeed specially suited to be his wife, not many others would have put up with him. Thank you Ms. Benjamin for bringing Anne to us so thoroughly. ( )
  lissabeth21 | Oct 3, 2017 |
There was so much that I didn't know about the lives of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Charles Lindbergh before I read this book. It was one of those historical novels that had me searching for more information about events such as the flights that Anne and Charles took together, the details of their honeymoon, and the tragic kidnapping of their son. I always enjoy books that help me learn more in this way, and this well told story of Anne's life certainly did that. I'm not sure I would agree entirely with how every event was portrayed, or with the "voice" that the author gave to Anne but it was an enjoyable read none-the-less. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction that delves into the lives of well known figures while also telling a compelling story would find this a good read - along with Melanie Benjamin's other novels. ( )
  debs4jc | Jul 5, 2017 |
This novel underscores my distrust of "historical fiction" -- particularly when it assumes opinions and perspectives of known figures. Seems dangerous and irresponsible. But mostly I just found this book slow and dull. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
Benjamin builds an absorbing and personal look into the life of Anne Lindbergh, wife of "Lucky Lindy" Charles Lindbergh, the first man to make the transatlantic flight from New York to Paris alone. Written entirely from her perspective, it follows her life through her relationship with Charles, from the first day they meet to the day he dies. It heavily features Charles and Anne's thoughts on the man, the myth, and the legend he embodies, as well as details their constant struggles with the press and their personal lives - i.e. the kidnapping and murder of Charlie, their first child. It is written as a series of "flashbacks," starting with Anne watching Charles die and flipping back to different points in her marriage, giving the feeling that she is contemplating them as she cares for Charles towards the end of his life.

This book has earned three stars from me because the writing was, I think, unnecessarily repetitive. It seems as though Anne continuously experiences the same revelations about her marriage and about Charles. She finds that he's "not the boy anymore, but in this moment, the man he would become" so often that the words become empty and meaningless. And these revelations never seem to stick; she continues to carry the same flawed logic forward because of them. Obviously, as a historical fiction novel, the plot is more or less set before her, but since so much of the book features her inner reverie, it seems like these revelations could be earned by inches instead of the grand exclamations over and over that create a kind of broken record feeling, in order to better develop the character. Additionally, bits of information are thrown in at the last moment when they should have been laid down much earlier in the books - things like when Anne did and did not keep a diary, for instance, only came up as they became relevant, and thus their effects, and the potential effect this could have on Anne's character development and/or an indicator of the nature of their relationship, is unnecessarily lost.

That said, Anne's character develops imperceptibly throughout the book. It seems as though she is kept in a single place as a character until almost the end of the book, when she very suddenly and rapidly grows in a very small space of time. Additionally, most of her character development was "told," and not "shown" devaluing it as it stands. Charles' character is "shown" and develops a lot better, which could be taken on a commentary about how history remembers Anne, as an afterthought and/or reflection of Charles, or could simply be bad writing. After reading the book, I felt that I had learned more about Charles than about Anne, and that I knew Charles as a character better than I knew Anne as a character - this was how Charles-centric this book was. I get that this book is about their marriage, but I found Anne waxing poetic about Charles more than about their marriage, which was dissatisfying, since the book was supposed to be about Anne.

The writing itself is very descriptive, and passages are made to sound more like poetry than prose with their flowery-ness, for lack of a better word. This is a great detail to weave into the book, since Anne's writing is often self-described (by the Anne as the book character as opposed to Anne as the historical entity) as extremely poetical.

Three stars. I would recommend this book for early high school to adult. No graphic language, no graphic violence, minimal graphic sex. ( )
  J9Plourde | Jun 13, 2017 |
My knowledge of the Lindberghs was very limited, so this book was interesting for the fact that it gave me some information about them (how much I'm not quite sure as it's fiction). The writing is nothing special though. It wasn't a book that felt compelling or hard to put down. I sort of plodded through. I think it's time I stopped reading Melanie Benjamin. ( )
  cjservis | May 19, 2017 |
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"But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart." - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
To Alec
First words
He is flying.
Our mother was as tightly wound as a bedside clock
Why couldn't confidence be bottled, like perfume?
Mother turned to me with a smile that suddenly crumbled, like a sand castle overwhelmed by an unexpected tide.
"But almost as soon as I landed, I began to feel it—the awful realization that I'm never going to be left alone. People always want more from me, and I don't know what I can give them. I already flew across the ocean."
for the first time I sensed the darker side of accomplishing so much, so young.
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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.

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.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345528670, Hardcover)

Melanie Benjamin on The Aviator’s Wife

Dimitri Maex

What was I thinking, writing a novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh?

That is a question I asked myself every time I sat down to work on The Aviator’s Wife.

For Anne Morrow Lindbergh guarded her privacy fiercely and, at times, I felt she was eluding me just to make that point! My other heroines—Alice Liddell in Alice I Have Been and Lavinia Warren Stratton in The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb—gave up their secrets easily, almost eagerly. Anne, however, did not.

But that was what attracted me to her story in the first place—because of how elusive Anne remains to this day. She is known in fragments but never completely. Some are aware of her child’s horrific kidnapping and murder. Others remember her chiefly as the shy, pretty bride of the most heroic man of his time. Many women revere her as an early feminist writer.

But few know her entire story, including her major accomplishments as an aviator in her own right, her grit and determination, her inner strength. Always she seems willing to stand in the tall shadow of her husband, Charles Lindbergh. And it was her marriage that fascinated and obsessed me; this marriage between two extraordinary and very different individuals under the relentless glare of the spotlight. This operatic life they led, through dizzying heights of accomplishment and celebrity to the devastating lows of what Anne always saw as the price they paid for flying too close to the sun.

It seemed to me, as I studied her, standing always slightly behind her husband, that there was a sly smile, a gleam in her eyes that she was always suppressing; a secret strength hidden from the world and even, at times, herself. This was the Anne Morrow Lindbergh whose story I wanted to tell. It’s time for Anne to step out from behind her husband’s shadow once and for all and be the heroine in her own epic story.

Photos from The Aviator's Wife

Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Courtesy of SDAM

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Anne Morrow Lindbergh with Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh with Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. at Next Day Hill, NJ.

Copyright: Lindbergh picture collection, 1860-1980 (inclusive). Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University

Click here for a larger image

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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