Everyone knows two things about Charles Lindbergh: he piloted the first solo, non- stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris and in 1932 his son Charles Lindbergh Jr was kidnapped and murdered. This book is a fact-based, although fictional, recollection of Anne Morrow Lindbergh who tried to create her own life within the shadow of her famous husband.
I learned a lot about Lucky Lindy, particularly how far reaching his influence was in the world of aviation, but Anne is the true star of the show. She is a much more sympathetic character.
“At the age of twenty-five, he had conquered not only the entire planet but all the sky above it.”
I feel like I can’t properly review or summarize The Aviator’s Wife without providing some spoilers. However, if you previously studied the life of Lindbergh these revelations won’t be particularly surprising.
If you have any romanticized feelings for Charles Lindbergh I don’t recommend this one- he comes off as a bit of an asshole. “Asshole” may be a strong word for a National hero but Charles spends the entire novel (which spans their entire marriage) belittling Anne. He also was a Nazi sympathizer and had a couple secret families. A victim of the times, Anne Morrow never realized she could have had a different life. She protected herself and her children by agreeing with Charles and parroting his beliefs back to him as her own. Through a series of intermittent flash forwards you see the facade of their marriage crumbling because it isn’t until the children are grown that Anne realizes she could have had a life outside of her husband’s.
I don’t mean to be hyper critical of Anne Morrow, again a victim of the times, but I spent a lot of my reading time wishing I could knock some sense into her. Melanie Benjamin does a great job of creating a novel that reads like a memoir; despite being well researched I am interested in reading a true non-fiction retelling of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s life now.