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The Aviator's Wife: A Novel by Melanie…

The Aviator's Wife: A Novel (edition 2013)

by Melanie Benjamin

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1,0341328,169 (3.87)1 / 45
Title:The Aviator's Wife: A Novel
Authors:Melanie Benjamin
Info:Delacorte Press (2013), Hardcover, 416 pages
Tags:Charles Lindbergh

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The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

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Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
I have to admit, I grew up with a mother who loved Anne Lindbergh's writings, especially her Gift of the Sea, and after I became a wife and mother, I too appreciated her lyrical prose and thoughtful observations about the tug of roles most women must face. And I knew about Charles Lindbergh's history, his absolute godlike status: The Lone Eagle, Aviator of the World, in the late 20s, the horrible kidnapping and death of their firstborn son, & even his disturbingly pro German, anti-Jewish sympathies when world war loomed. I even have visited his quiet, tucked away grave site when I was on the island of Maui. But I didn't know how very difficult a marriage - while certainly long lasting!- the two endured. In the opening chapter, Benjamin takes on the voice of a young Anne, a college senior, and narrates their story, but especially Anne's, in both retrospective and chronological sections. At first, Anne's constant explaining, "telling" of her emotions, doubts, etc was tiresome and I feared I would give up. But somewhere in the first third of the book, I felt like the author began to balance the explaining of the characters of not just Charles and Anne, but their family members, world figures and famous friends - all while putting them in the context of the whirlwind of events: the late 20s, the trailblazing long distance flight trips of Anne & Charles, and the emergence of the flight industry, turning to the grim realities of the Depression and the rise of dictators and Nazism, including the '36 Olympics, and the America First pacifist movement in presidential election politics... all while we watch Anne discover her fearlessness in becoming a pilot and radio operator herself!, her struggle to be the wife Charles insists she can be, and the mother to her growing family. And in between all this, we watch her hesitantly, in fits and starts, try to find her own way, and her gift of writing. I obviously wasn't paying attention to breaking news 6-7 years ago when three German siblings stepped forward and claimed to be Charles Lindbergh's children by a German mistress. And more children by the woman's sister? And children by his secretary?? And another fling with a Filipino woman? And Anne herself apparently having a brief affair with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry- while this isn't covered in the book, (this seems an interesting omission? )- Anne finally determines to find her own way apart from Charles and has a deeply satisfying relationship with her family doctor, Dana Atchley, finding joy in her friendships, pursuits in NY City and beyond, and her children's grown lives. Wow. Stunning - Benjamin's way of dealing with this much more private reality of the Lindbergh marriage is interesting, and at least plausible. I'd really like to make my rating 3 1/2 ...this book grows on you. ( )
  BDartnall | Dec 28, 2016 |
Yet another terrific book by Melanie Benjamin! I was very excited to see that this time the author had chosen to delve into the life of Anne Morrow Lindberg. I was fascinated by the Lindbergs when I was growing up. I read a lot of biographies about Charles and non-fiction books about the kidnapping of their son and a few of Anne Morrow's works, but I hadn't thought about them in years, so I was pleased to read this book and to see Anne get some attention. I know that this is a work of fiction, but I felt like I learned so much about the dynamics of their marriage that I wasn't aware of before. I'm not even sure I knew that Anne had such a prominent role in aviatrix and traveled so extensively with her husband. Well done! ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
This book had all the elements I love except for a more complex writing style (but this was clear without any confusing look-back issues). It had history (Charles Lindbergh), insight, character development, readability and plot, interest, and learning. It made me want to know more about the Lindbergh children and any accomplishments or problems they may have had. ( )
  bereanna | Aug 5, 2016 |
This fictionalized account of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's life reads as though it were a memoir. I was left wanting to know even more about her.


Flying is perfectly safe. Up there on the currents, like the birds—it’s a holy thing. Nothing has ever made me feels so—so in control of my own destiny. So above all the petty strife and cares of the world. It’s down here where the danger is, you know—not up there.
-Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife p 29)
As much as I told myself that life was no fairy tale, I had always hoped, deep down, that it was. What young girl doesn’t dream of the hero rescuing her from her lonely tower? I had been no different, only more diligent, perhaps, than others in constructing that ivory tower of my own design—a foundation laid of books, the bricks formed of the duty drilled into me by my parents; dreams may have been the paintings on my walls, but doubts and fears were the bars on my windows.
-Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife p 45-6)
And there were good times; odd though as the years went on, the details of those lost their sharpness, so that they became impressionistic paintings compared to the unmistakably photographic images of the bad.
-Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife p 322)
I was Mom. I was Wife. I was Tragedy. I was Pilot. They all were me, and I, them. That was a fate we could not escape, we women; we would always be called upon by others in a way men simply never were. But weren’t we always, first and foremost—woman? Wasn’t there strength in that, victory, clarity—in all the stages of a woman’s life.
-Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife p 340)
You need to …stop looking for heroes, Anne. Only the weak need…heroes…and heroes need…those around them to remain weak. You’re…not weak.
-Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife p 341-2)
I’d thought marriage would mean I’d never be lonely. Now I knew: Marriage breeds its own special brand of loneliness, and it’s far more cruel. You miss more, because you’ve known more.
-Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife p 349)
Unlike men, women got less sentimental as we aged, I was discovering. We cried enough, when we were young; vessels overflowing with the tears of everyone we loved.
-Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife p 391) ( )
  nicolewbrown | Jul 31, 2016 |
This is a wonderful literary fiction. I knew a little about Charles Lindbergh and after this book I have a different perspective of him. He seemed to be a difficult man who had to have everything his way. Even if he wasn’t home, things had to be ran the way he wanted it. The kids had to follow very detailed schedules, they had books they were supposed to read and Ann was supposed to keep inventory of everything in the house including how many shampoo bottles there were while he flew around the world having affairs and children out of wedlock. Ann was an amazing person on her own. She was a pilot, she flew many different kinds of planes. She also survived the kidnapping and killing of her first born. She also ran things while Charles was gone. But she also seemed to put Charles before anything else including herself. This is beautifully written and really pulled me into the story making me want to know more about this family, more than I already knew. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
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"But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart." - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
To Alec
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He is flying.
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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.
Haiku summary

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

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(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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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