Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

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.

This fictional look at the personal life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh is a wonderful read that captured my interest from page one. Watching as Anne (a shy and sheltered girl) fell in love with one of the most famous men of her time (and ours) was delightful, even though there were clear signs of trouble on the horizon. The account of the kidnapping and death of her baby son was harrowing, as was the slow decline of her relationship with Charles. From beginning to end, this book gives life to a story that many of us know only for its headlines. It is is moving and troubling and ultimately rewarding- an excellent read that I highly recommend.

As always, Melanie Benjamin does an great job of placing her characters firmly in history, and of making their words sound true to their circumstances (even though they are of course fictional). I enjoyed the Aviator's Wife immensely, and also recommend Alice I Have Been for a similarly strong and emotional tale.

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