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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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8921219,899 (3.87)1 / 43
Title:The Aviator's Wife: A Novel
Authors:Melanie Benjamin
Info:Delacorte Press (2013), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, Anne Morrow, Charles Lindbergh

Work details

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

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Listened to audio - not the best book I've ever read or listened to, but it held my attention while sewing and crafting. ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
Historical fiction based on the lives of Charles and Anne Lindbergh. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Historical fiction based on the lives of Charles and Anne Lindbergh. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Audiobook read by Lorna Raver.

Ann Morrow was a shy young woman, content to stay in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father (U.S. ambassador to Mexico) and her vivacious older sister. She is a college senior in December 1927 when she travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family and meets their distinguished guest: Colonel Charles Lindbergh. The aviator has only recently completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic and is hounded by the press. She feels sure he is attracted to her sister (and the newspapers report as much), but it is to the quiet Anne that Charles is drawn. They marry in a headline-making wedding, and begin married life as co-adventurers. Yet, despite her own impressive achievements, Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife.

Benjamin has mined history in her previous novels and the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh provides a wealth of information on which to base this work. The reader sees Anne as a shy young woman, unwilling to assert herself against the wishes of her parents or her new husband. If he says she will learn celestial navigation so she can be his co-pilot, well, she’ll learn. If he wants to propel her off a cliff in a glider, well, she’ll become the first licensed female glider pilot. If he says, “Leave the baby with a nurse and come to the Orient with me for six months; that’s why we hired her!” Well, Anne will leave and help Charles chart a new course over the polar ice cap for potential future commercial flights. If he insists they never mention the child they lost, she’ll pretend it never happened. If he wants to move to Europe, she’ll move. And if he asks her to help him convince America that the German model has many good aspects, well, she will put her talents as a writer to use crafting the message he wants to send.

But all that denial of her own wishes, desires, dreams, ambitions and opinions comes at a significant price. Yes, she continues to live a life of privilege, but it is an increasingly isolated and lonely life. While Charles continues his work across the globe, promoting the advantages of commercial air travel, Anne is left at home to maintain the household and answer the difficult questions of her children. Even more distressing, she is left alone and frustrated without a clear purpose of her own, without her husband’s recognition of her need for her own dreams and accomplishments. And with a growing realization that the dream she married is not the man she is living with.

I’ve read several biographies of the Lindberghs; I’ve read Anne’s book A Gift From the Sea and several of her diaries. And I’ve read books about the Lindbergh Kidnapping, too. So, little of the information I found in this book was news to me, and maybe that’s why I cannot rate it higher. For me it was adequate but not special. The way Benjamin portrays these characters made me really dislike them – both of them. Yes, I recognize that this was a different era and she was a woman brought up in a very specific and narrow way to conform to society, but Anne’s blind devotion to the myth of Charles Lindbergh made me want to slap her silly. And Charles? Well, to paraphrase Scarlett O’Hara – I can’t think of anything bad enough to call him!

My frustration with Anne is best illustrated in this passage:
To my children, I was just Mom. That was all. And before that, I had been Charles’s wife, the bereaved mother of the slain child. That was all.
But before that, I had been a pilot, An adventurer. I had broken records – but I had forgotten about them. I had steered aircraft – but I didn’t think I would know how to, anymore. I had soared across the sky, every bit as daring as Lucky Lindy himself, the one person in the world who could keep up with him.
Yet motherhood had brought me down to earth with a thud, and kept me there with tentacles made of diapers and tears and lullabies and phone calls and car pools and the sticky residue of hair spray and Barbasol all over the bathroom counter. Would I ever be able to soar again? Would I ever have the courage?
Did any woman?

Yes, many women did, and do. Benjamin gives us an Anne Lindberg who gave up and then blamed others for her own failings. THAT is what I found so disappointing in this book.

Lorna Raver does a pretty good job of narrating the audio version, although I thought her voice sounded too mature for the young Anne that is the focus of much of this book. Still, her pacing was good and she had sufficient skill to differentiate the many characters, male and female, in the novel.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Hmmm, ran the gamete of emotions on this one. I listened to the book and read as well, so I think part of my displeasure stemmed from the readers overly emoted rendition. She read slowly and with such expression that it made me want to tell her to "get on with it already." At first, i was infuriated with Anne, but made myself realize that this was all taking place In the 20's, different mores. Her traveling with her husband and leaving her children behind reminded me of a huge heated discussion my book club mates and I got Into after reading "Loving Frank." It was the norm for wealthy privileged women to leave their kids for weeks and months at a time. They said no woman in her right mind would do that...I disagreed.

Any who, the book was fascinating, loved the time frame and felt truly sorry for this intelligent woman trapped behind her famous husband. Writing was ok, a good summer read. ( )
  taconsolo | Jan 8, 2016 |
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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

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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