Friday, September 20, 2013

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin ~ A Review

The Aviator's Wife is a fictional account based on historical fact of the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles Lindbergh, the famous pilot who made the first flight across the ocean.  Anne Morrow grew up as the second daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico.  Shy in nature, she aspired to be a writer and lived her life in the shadow of her outgoing parents and older sister.  When she met Charles Lindbergh right after his famous flight, she automatically thought that he would be attracted to her sister Elizabeth and was surprised to find that she herself was drawn to his confidence and allure.  When Charles showed interest in her no one was more surprised than shy Anne.  But Charles saw in her the potential for a fellow explorer and soon asked her to marry him.  As a couple they made history together with charting flight routes all around the world.  Anne, herself, became an accomplished pilot in her own right and was the first woman to get her glider pilot's license.  She learned to navigate by the stars and became accomplished at Morse Code.  But with all the fame came life changing consequences.  The public and the press followed them constantly and wanted to be privy to every part of their lives, following them everywhere.  They had to resort to wearing disguises just to go out.  Even with all her accomplishments, Anne once again found herself in the shadow, this time of her controlling husband.  Even though they did all the exploring together, Charles publicly took all the credit for himself.  And when they had their first baby, Charles demanded Anne leave him with nannies while she came with him continuing his work.  When their first child at 20 months was kidnapped, Charles took over the investigation, his fame over riding even the detectives on the case.  But as days turned to weeks, and weeks into months,  Anne knew she had to give the detectives permission to do what they had to even it was behind Charles back.  Sadly after 3 months the child was found dead.  This was a major turning point in the lives of Charles and Anne.  Charles started to hide Anne, and eventually their other children, away in remote areas and kept them moving.  He started to take on controversial political views.  He started to leave home for longer and longer periods of time, leaving Anne lonely to care for the children on her own in remote houses.  Anne, while disagreeing with alot of things her husband said and did, always gave in to Charles, because he was her hero.  

This was such an interesting read.  It captured me right from the beginning and was hard to put down.  I love a fictional account of someone or something historical and it was evident throughout the book that the author did much research into these very famous and historical figures.  She took a lot of the accounts and events of their lives and put emotion and a real element into the documented facts.  I grieved with them as their child was discovered dead and was angered by the man that Charles became.  If all true, he was no hero to what should have been his most cherished accomplishment of his life, his family.  He was quite despicable, in fact.  I was grieved for Anne as she was not allowed to cry publicly or in his presence at the loss of her son.  I became angry that she wouldn't stand up for herself and say no and allowed Charles to manipulate her into doing things for him even though her heart told her it was not right.  I was saddened for the person she was becoming.  I cheered for her when she started to come out of it and took on the writing she always dreamed she'd do.  Though her affair in midlife made for a very sad part of the story for me, her deep need to actually be loved and appreciated and have her unending loneliness filled with companionship, was understandable.  Tough uncomfortable for me to read that portion of her story, it was a fact of her life, and the author did not go and on and on with it.    I loved the way the author wrote about this very intelligent, accomplished woman and brought her out of the famous shadow and gave her the credit due her as a true courageous explorer in her own right.  


Barbara H. said...

Wow, there was a lot I didn't know about these folks! I'm not sure if I will read this or not - maybe.

Faith said...

This is one I would probably read...mainly because i DO love historical fiction and have never read anything indepth about the family although of course I've read past history snippets about the baby. So tragic. I love a good historical fiction piece. Susanne...i have more books on my list that you have recommended!!! I'll never get to them all!!!!! I'm currently halfway through Pearl, the fiction written by Laura Lee Groves, the blogger who links up FFF with you. the Mom of all boys in Florida. I hope to finish it tonite and do the review tomorrow. It's a good book!!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I brought this or home from the library once but didn't get around to it, I need to give it another try!