The Aviator’s Wife
November 18, 2012
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The Aviator’s Wife (C+) by Melanie Benjamin was informative. Told in the voice of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Charles’s wife, it presented details that history has recorded and some that it hasn’t.
Anne Morrow is the daughter of the Ambassador to Mexico when she meets the famous Charles Lindbergh. Charles has just successfully flown The Spirit of St. Louis across the ocean and back. He is every young woman’s dream, a young and handsome hero. Anne falls under his spell but as usual believes she is not pretty, smart or attractive enough to be noticed by him. Everyone expects that her sister Elizabeth will be the one to catch the hero’s eye. Not so, Charles’s goal is to make Anne his wife. He does not woo her; he acquires her. This establishes the pace for their 45- year relationship.
Anne begins her narrative at the end of their story. Charles is dying from leukemia and is being air lifted to die at their home in Hawaii. While in the hospital, a young nurse gives a packet of letters to Anne. These letters, written in Charles’ hand, are love letters he has written over the years to several of his mistresses. Unaware of them, Anne is determined for Charles to explain himself before he passes.
Melanie Benjamin certainly did her research incorporating fact with fiction to deliver an intensely powerful novel. I was frustrated with Anne throughout the book. I was touched by the kidnapping and murder of baby Charlie and impressed with Anne’s farewell to Charles. I did not, however, feel that this was a well written book. There were so many times where the story was tedious and boring. Benjamin’s portrayal of Anne became obsessive. It was clear that Anne was not strong throughout her marriage. She always felt inferior and unworthy. I got it, and got it, and got it to the point that if Anne were here I would have screamed at her. Perhaps this was the author’s intention to make the reader understand how Charles controlled her. It just irritated me and made me feel uncomfortable. I was happy to see Anne developed some backbone by the end of her marriage. It certainly was about time.
All in all, I now know much more about the Lindbergh’s than I did before. I don’t care for biographies so I enjoy discovering people through historical fiction. I would have been happier if the book had been better written like The Paris Wife and Loving Frank. Having said that; if you are interested in historical characters by all means meet Anne and Charles Lindbergh in The Aviator’s Wife.