Monday, January 21, 2013

Alice's Review: The Aviator's Wife

Summary:  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. ~

Review: Although we are only halfway through January, The Aviator's Wife is the first must read novel of the 2013. 

In this novel, Melanie Benjamin skillfully uses artistic license to tell the true story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of the famous pilot Charles Lindbergh.  Ms. Benjamin introduces us to a young Anne Morrow of Englewood, NJ (shout out to Jersey!) – a shy, young,  starry-eyed girl of twenty about to embark on the adventure of her lifetime.   The Aviator’s Wife encompasses Anne’s life beginning the first time she meets Charles until shortly after his death in 1974. We all know the story of the Lindberghs.  From Charles’ world famous solo crossing of the Atlantic to the horrific kidnapping of their 18-month old son to their fall from grace during World War II, the Lindberghs captured a nation and created media frenzy wherever they went.  The Aviator’s Wife tells their story from Anne’s point of view. 

There are many wonderful things about this novel. It recounts Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s journey into womanhood.  This novel is a testament to her resilience.  I loved being besides her on this journey.  She begins as a shy, slightly insecure college student waiting for her life to begin, waiting for her hero.  She becomes this amazing woman, a fighter.  She finds her voice through her experiences, writing, and her children.  I loved how her mother told her she was not weak, she didn’t need a hero.  Heroes needed others around them to be weak, and Anne was far from weak.  She was a pioneer who lived her life quietly in her husband’s shadow. 

I think the magic in this novel is watching Anne evolve from this small person hidden behind her husband.  She was his “yes” woman, forever stuck as part of his crew until she learned to stretch her own wings.  She matured into a woman who although desired nothing more than her husband’s love and admiration, learned to live in a way that honored herself and the Morrow name.  I truly believe Ms. Benjamin masterfully embraces Anne’s character and persona.  I was moved to tears when Charles Lindbergh Jr., or Charlie as he was lovingly called, was stolen from the Lindbergh home.  That wasn’t the only time I cried.  At the end of the novel I cried whether it was from sadness this wonderful novel was over or because this incredible woman finally found her own wings.  And oh, how she soared.

Although I know I won’t pick up this novel again, it did inspire a curiosity in me about the real Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  I am thankful to Ms. Benjamin for including a listing of Anne’s written work in her references.

Final Take: 4/5



Cozy in Texas January 23, 2013 at 12:19 PM  

This sounds like a good book club read. I'll add it to my tbr.

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