Review: THE AVIATOR’S WIFE by Melanie Benjamin

Every now and then I go through a phase where I read all I can on a certain subject. Back in the 1990’s I went through a “female aviator” phase. I read about Amelia Earhart. Then it was Beryl Markham. Then Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I became fascinated with Anne Lindbergh. I read all her diaries. I read biographies. I read her book “A Gift from the Sea”. I read her book of her journey to the “Orient” with Charles. I read her daughter’s Reeve’s memoir of life in the Lindbergh household. I found Anne Morrow Lindbergh incredibly inspiring. She was so smart yet so vulnerable. She was so brave yet lacked confidence. She was so totally human. I felt like we would have been friends. I wanted to write to her and tell her how much she inspired me to be a better person in my own life, but I figured Anne had spent a huge part of her life trying to escape all those adoring fans, she didn’t need another one bothering her in her twilight years. And then I read one day that she had passed away.

Imagine my delight when I saw that Melanie Benjamin had written a fictionalized account based on Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s adult life. I felt incredibly lucky to get a copy through Net Galley – and I LOVED reading this book (NOTE: THE FOLLOWING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS). Here was the Anne I had read about – shy and sensitive, brilliant and loving – along with her larger than life famous aviator husband Charles. I revisited their first meeting, their courtship, their marriage, their flights, and the birth of their children. I cried once again over the lost Lindbergh baby Charlie. I delighted in Anne’s ever-increasing brood of children. I became indignant at Charles for his unbending practicality, his emotional aloofness, his exacting need to always be correct. And I learned a few new things — Anne had taken a lover in later life. Charles had seven children out of wedlock. The family moved even more times than I realized. Both Anne and Charles were criticized for their ties to the Nazi party.

Melanie Benjamin has done a fabulous job in making Anne Morrow Lindbergh come to life. It is clear she has done her homework. I picture modern-day book groups criticizing Anne for her willingness to be number two to her husband, her choice to stand by him. I would say don’t judge Anne by today’s culture and standards. In the 1920’s and 30’s our society was very different. Anne was also raised as an ambassador’s daughter. A lot of choices were not her own. I did enjoy reading how Anne comes more into her own post WWII.

This book is destined to be one of my Best Reads for 2013! Thank you Ms. Benjamin for writing this story.

thanks Net Galley for my copy!

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