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The Aviator’s Wife By: Melanie Benjamin

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
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.

Goodreads Summary

I’d forgotten the historic articles I’d read as a kid about Lindbergh, the Spirit of St. Louis, and the kidnapping.  Someone in my family has a copy of his book; next time, I will check the inscription since Benjamin’s book says that it’s dedicated to A.M.L., Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  I really enjoy historical fiction like this because the stories make me want to find out more about the subjects.  As a kid, I admired Lindbergh, but the enormity of his accomplishment and popularity didn’t make sense to me.  The horror of the kidnapping was unforgettable, of course.

Benjamin added so much more information and emotion to the stories that I read as a child.  The terrible media circus that pursued the Lindberghs is now more clear and frightening.  There are many details about the baby’s kidnapping that I was definitely interested to read.  I should be ashamed of myself for never really considering the Lindbergh wife/mother. Benjamin mentions that she created Anne’s personality based upon diaries and biographies.  Anne’s conflicted personality seems right to me.  In the early 20th century, a woman would suppress her own wants and hopes to her husband’s ….especially a famous husband.  However, it was also the era of bobbed hair; women were expanding their roles at home and in society.  Along with Anne’s wishes to be “more”, her acceptance and satisfaction of her role as daughter, wife, and mother are expressed wonderfully through her thoughts and activities.  I’m glad to learn more about this pioneering yet typical woman.

Lindbergh’s character is not engaging.  He’s so controlling and so OCD about business and everyday life.  His arrogance really put me off.  I wasn’t charmed by his infrequent bouts of thoughtfulness or romance as Anne was.  It’s too bad that he’s not likeable, but I believe Benjamin’s characterization is accurate.  The incredible extent of his infidelities shocked me even after reading about his coldness and his absences.  I hadn’t heard about his Nazi sympathies before.

Benjamin wrote the best story possible given her subject matter. Lindbergh’s off-putting personality doesn’t inspire interest.  The story of this American hero’s wife should be better, but Anne’s personality has difficulty carrying the story because her husband is dragging it down.

4/5 Stars

*Reviewed by Colleen*

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.


  1. This sounds fascinating to me too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.