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.
©2013 Melanie Benjamin (P)2013 Random House Audio
Found this fascinating. While the story is told from Anne's point of view, it's also an adroit study of Charles Lindbergh ("Lucky Lindy), his effect on our nation and the world, while he struggled with his own private demons, ever increasing fame and decreasing privacy. Socially awkward, happiest when flying or with tinkering with machines, he's a man with a dark side, his own rules of right and wrong, no matter the cost. The protagonist, Anne, (the daughter of an ambassador, kind and highly intelligent, a graduate of Smith College), meets Lindbergh soon after his famous solo transatlantic flight and is powerfully drawn to him, a true hero in her mind and heart.
He was the most famous man in the world for many years and the author well illustrates the pros and cons he and Anne dealt with because of that. Like the very most famous people today, they couldn't leave their home without the paparazzi all over them. Wherever they went, every aspect of their life was dissected and the daily fodder for each and every newspaper and magazine. They craved privacy and found their truest escape in the sky, flying all over the world together. Anne became an accomplished aviatrix in her own right and was her husband's "crew." Enjoyed learning about all they did during that time.
At first I disliked how much Anne put herself down, i.e., questioning how she, of all people, was the one Lindbergh chose to marry. However, as the book moved along, her insecurities helped me to understand why she would do anything and everything Charles asked (demanded, really), even when it went against her own beliefs/feelings and best instincts (for example, Lindbergh's open antisemitism).
Anne's strength and her own convictions grow over the years, through the trials and tribulations she endures (most horrifically, the kidnapping...and the awful aftermath...of their first son, Charles, Jr., only 20 mos. old) throughout their long marriage, as she raises their surviving 5 children, mostly on her own...often not knowing where her husband is in the world. It's incredibly gratifying when Anne begins to blossom and comes into her own as a successful author ("Gift from the Sea") and independent woman, no longer cowered by her husband's authority or craving his approval. I felt like cheering.
If you like historical fiction...or even if you don't...this is a great "read."
Narrator: At first I didn't like the narrator, as I wanted a younger, softer voice to listen to...once I realized the story is is being told from the perspective of an elderly Anne, I fell into the rhythm of her voice and ended up liking her very much. That's saying a lot, because narration is one of my pet peeves. I've bought hundreds of audio books and have learned that poor narration can kill a good story faster than anything else.
trying to see the world with my ears
I listen to a couple of books a week, half of which go in one ear and out the other. I thought this was one of the latter. I’m not in interested in Lindberghs, aviation or even relationship fiction. I downloaded this for the “rich sweep of 20th century history” promised in the publisher’s blur. On that count I was disappointed, with just a few cameos from evil Nazis and assorted American icons, all marginal to the story. But I kept listening, and find myself still mulling over the novel weeks later.
This is like a series of snapshots of mid 20th century middle class middle American social history, albeit though the lens of an especially privileged member of that group with her voice sometimes muted, sometimes hijacked by her social milieu and particularly by the aviator himself.
If you don’t expect a Virginia Woolf, you may get lost in an engaging listen. I don’t think I would have persisted with a print version, however. I enjoy slow-paced listening but this was at times pedestrian and too melodramatic-- yet made bearable by the narration. No marriage runs smoothly, particularly with a controlling partner, but the novel is less than subtle in portraying the vacillations in the relationship.
Overall - this is much better than chick lit, but not excellent social history fiction. I'd really be interested in reading a review by someone familiar with Morrrow’s letters and diaries. Are the "3 letters" just a literary device - or did she really not know? - it was still kind of an "age of innocence" in social mores. Usually after a fictionalized bio, I turn to a real bio as a follow-up. I had a hankering for an Edith Wharton novel after this, not more of the real Morrow Lindburgh.
The author includes a good afterword. If you want maximum pleasure from the novel, brush up on the Lindburghs after you read it, not before.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
When I read the book on Coolidge there was a lot of information about the Morrow family and Charles Lindbergh so when I saw this book I grabbed it. I am glad I did! I remember reading Ann Morrow Lindbergh's books back in the 1950's and learning about them in school. This book provided far more insight and understand of the Lindbergh's than other books I have read about them. The book showed Ann coming into her own person and the changes in her life from the kidnapping and death of her first born son, the terrible hounding of them by the paparazzi. Ann went from a pampered rich girl to learning how to cook, and run a household of five children by herself. She has been lost in the shadow of Lindbergh she was his copilot, navigator and radio operator she had licenses in all this some being the first women do so. All his records he broke she was the copilot but did anyone notice her? It is about time she is know for more than her writings. She was the first women to fly a glider and to obtain a license. I enjoyed this book and they way it was told looking back at her life. Lorna Raver did a good job narrating the book.
This book begs for editing, as the author writes conversations that creep so slowly they become silly, and it sometimes seems like she was getting paid by the word. THAT said....
Give this book a chance, and it becomes a fascinating portrait of a smart, talented and accomplished woman, daughter of a politician and a suffragette, who marries the man of her dreams and is immediately strapped into the back seat; in the plane, in their life, and in the public's eye. Hard enough, in the 1930's, to be a woman who wants to use her brain. Add to that being married to the world's first superstar, hounded by media worldwide, envied by all for her 'luck', and being expected to be the perfect Mrs. while her own considerable skills as aviatrix and author are ignored. A dead baby, a Nazi-loving husband, secret wives and children in other countries, and a woman who takes back her power and her life without any bitterness, caring for her husband as he dies of cancer. It really becomes a great, big, generational saga.
As the author notes, writing a historical novel has an advantage over a biography; the author is not confined to depicting what happened when, but can insert emotions. The 'whys' of what happened and when can be explored, using diaries and info from friends and family. That is one of the reasons why I enjoy historical novels more than history, which I do love.
Surprisingly I knew only the basics about him before reading this book. Having loved her book years ago when I first read it, I was interested. Wow, the things I learned about him! Many points revealed in this book I was so shocked by. Sure that they could not be true, but a quick internet search proved each one to be quite factual.
I would have set that man's trousers afire!!!
Yes, there is a lot of one on one dialog, speculation and assumption woven in this nice little flowing story. Things no one could have known about. It's on the fiction shelf for a reason. This is a facinating tale regardless, that carried a lot of interest for me. This book has me looking for other historical fiction.
Crossing the sexual vocal divide must be rough. Seems like I complain about that often. Lorna Raver's male voices have a lot to be desired.
She Stood By Her Man.
It's not the writing or necessarily the story, which is based on actual people, that made me dislike this book. It was well written. The main characters were just impossible for me to like or even care about. Of course I knew about the Lindberghs, but I guess this is a case of "the more you know, the less you like". Charles is arrogant, domineering, a terrible husband and father, and antisemitic to top it off. Anne is a weak doormat of a woman who allows Charles to dominate and psychologically abuse not only her, but her children as well. I found almost nothing to admire about either one of them, and mostly had a feeling of aggravation and disgust the whole time I was listening to this book. Not an enjoyable listening experience.
The narration was fine, I guess it suited Anne's self-pitying, weak character.
The era...the factual information.....it made me look up the story on the internet and look at images that the book describes.
The sense of helplessness Anne portrayed.
Everything! Great narator!
The author, Melanie Benjamin, says what she hopes the reader will take away from her novel is the desire to learn more about the characters. Mission accomplished - I googled the Lindberghs. But, I can't figure out why she didn't just write a non-fiction book. This book wants to be non-fiction. It wants to show you the reality of the sociopathic husband and the doormat wife and that reality kinda sucks.
Here are my thoughts as I listened to this book: "I can't wait until Anne does something crazy, like not make his dinner. Oh wait, crazy things won't happen, this is non-fiction. Wait, it's fiction, why aren't crazy things happening?".
Why, Melanie, why can't Anne win just once?
What a read! I had such mixed emotions reading this book. Most of the time I just wanted shake Anne Lindbergh for not standing up for herself. But then I had to step back and look at the time and society and she did what every good wife did back then ... she kept persevering to make everything seem wonderful to the world in spite of what she was feeling internally. In today's world (in America), her options would be wide open. Anne Lindbergh was a smart woman who had the capacity to love beyond all things. And she did that with a passion. My heart broke with the kidnapping of her child and the fact that she had to grieve privately for her little son. This was my first time reading Melanie Benjamin and I enjoyed the way she told the story. She kept it interesting yet made the reader wonder what was coming next. I can't say I enjoyed the story, but I enjoyed the way the author revealed it and grabbed my attention. Kudos to Ms. Benjamin.
The Lindberghs shared an amazing life in exhilarating times. The book is interesting indeed, truly a fascinating story, well told. However, the book is told in the voice of Anne Lindbergh, writing as a woman of some 60 to 70 years, but telling the story primarily of their early years, tumultuous years together.
The only problem is with the performance. This was the first time I have been disappointed with the choice of reader for an Audible book. In this case, the reader is one who has a mature, almost elderly voice, yet most of the book is told by Anne Lindbergh as a twenty-something, and the voice is disconcerting. Anne is sometimes depicted as small and petty as you might expect a spoiled, privileged twenty-something to be. Read in a young person's voice, her resentments might be understood as immaturity. Read in the voice of the mature reader, she comes across as unbelievably petty and small-minded, whiney and irritating. I think the fault is primarily in the voice of the reader not matching the voice of the narrator. This is a case where the use of two readers, as was done with Water for Elephants, would have been preferable.
However, the story is worth the time spent listening. Just be aware that you might find the voice not perfectly fit to the story's narrator.
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