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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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70410813,451 (3.94)1 / 35
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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Good historical fiction makes the reader want to know more, and THE AVIATOR'S WIFE does do that. It discusses Charles Lindburgh's book (written, you will learn, with Ann Morrow Lindburgh, although he gives her no credit), THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS, and Ann's own book much later, GIFT FROM THE SEA. You'll probably want to read them after you read THE AVIATOR'S WIFE.

But good historical fiction can also be dangerous. Because it is so well written, the reader too easily forgets that she is reading fiction, that this is not biography but is partly, maybe even largely, right out of the author's imagination. Although Ann's contributions to Charles's life and reputation should be recognized, the reader should also remember that much (or most) of this book is fiction and is not what Ann, herself, said or wrote.

Even if you remember this may not be true, THE AVIATOR'S WIFE is difficult to read. It concentrates on the Lindberghs' horrible marriage, Charles's eccentricities, and Ann's compliance with whatever Charles mandated. It claims that, until the latter part of the marriage, Ann acted the way she did, said what she said, and wrote what she wrote because Charles did. For nearly 45 years, Ann was a sap. For nearly 400 pages of this book, Ann was a sap.

So Ann may aggravate you throughout the book. But you may also be glad to know that she really did fly airplanes and act as Charles's crew on so many flights he, alone, took credit for. Maybe Ann, the sap, is fiction. ( )
  techeditor | Oct 26, 2014 |
I read The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin for a book discussion group, otherwise I probably would have missed reading this book, as it's not something I would normally pick up. I really enjoyed this book, and found the Lindbergh's to be a fascinating couple. I also liked the authors writing style. This book made me want to learn more about Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. ( )
  Mathenam | Oct 6, 2014 |
Thoroughly enjoyed this "novel" which seemed totally real to me. An unusual family in a momentous era, the story of Anne Morrow Lindberg is probably representative in terms of the marriage relationship of husband and wife in that era of many not so known couples. Hopefully, the institution of marriage has evolved to a better place today but no doubt other issues have risen which are the result of our culture and society. The book has motivated me to research more about this famous couple and especially to read Morrow's writings. ( )
  readyreader | Aug 29, 2014 |
What a cad that Charles Lindbergh was! My mother and I read this together and bristled about his abominable behavior. He treated Anne terribly. The book was well-written and I finished it last night, and had bad dreams. I'm glad she chose not to be buried next to him. What a jerk!
  ElizabethFlygare | Aug 25, 2014 |
Historical fiction frequently sends me off in search of non-fiction about the person, the time, or the place. I usually rate those books more highly because the author did a good job of piquing my interest beyond their own story. In this case, however, I want this story to be true. Benjamin has crafted a perfect fictional autobiography of Ann Morrow Lindbergh--initially compliant, but adventurous--a woman who deals with tragedy, raises a large family by herself after being essentially abandoned by her heroic but deeply flawed husband. Ann's resilience, intelligence, and bravery shine through this narrative that deals with a woman's life writ large. She struggles with issues all women will find familiar, but in the harsh light of public scrutiny, hounded by the press and strangers who feel they have a claim on her and her husband because of their fame.

Back to my original premise, I want to read Ann's book Gift from the Sea, but I don't want to read a biography of her life. I did peek ahead at the Author's Note to see how closely Benjamin followed the known story and was satisfied that she did her homework. It's the emotional truth of The Aviator's Wife that I don't want spoiled with the facts. Benjamin did her job well. ( )
  MarysGirl | Aug 22, 2014 |
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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

Click here for a larger image

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:22 -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 3 descriptions

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