Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Aviator's Wife by: Melanie Benjamin

Title: The Aviator's Wife
Author: Melanie Benjamin
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback ARC
Source: Pump Up Your Book Promotions


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.

My Thoughts: 

Wow this book has so much in it.  We meet Anne as she is a student at Smith College and is home with her family in Mexico City as her father is an ambassador to Mexico.  Her family is entertaining Colonel Charles Lindbergh for the holiday and instantly Charles and hooked up with Anne's sister Elizabeth.  

Instead Charles heads in the direction of Anne.  Where they court and go flying in airplanes.  Charles picks Anne as someone he can connect with.  Early on in the marriage Anne learns that she is a partner in every aspect of  their life.  Charles also teaches Anne how to fly and become the first female aviatrix which is a big deal but everything Anne does early on becomes under shadowed by Charles.  He is the front and center of it all, which makes Anne mute until Charles wants her vocal.  In this book Charles is painted as an annoying egotistical jerk.  Anne tries to juggle family life with her love of her husband, which at times can be very trying.

When little Charlie goes missing and later found dead the crime of the century Anne finds herself with so much guilt over her son that she didn't even get to see before he was cremated.  Anne has so much sorrow and sadness but with Charles around she isn't allowed to show the weakness that grief shows.  Not long after that the couple with their new son Jon go to England, Germany and Paris.  Finally they decide to go home or rather Charles decides it's time to go home and fight a new fight about Hitler and Roosevelt.

During this part of the book where Charles turns into a Nazi lover type character speaking out at conventions and speakings.  When people don't listen to him he enlists the help of his wife, figuring no one will go against the mother of the baby who died so long ago.  The opposite ends up happening when Anne writes a article she is attacked. 

In this book Anne learns about loss and finding her own way.  Finding a way that defines her without her husband beside her as he is dying.  Even though I think in Anne's eyes he left along time ago.  Most of this book is a back and forth of how both Anne and Charles dealt with the kidnapping and death of little Charlie Lindbergh.  How they moved on from it.  Anne crying in secret and always looking for her little boy in the streets and Charles having affairs trying to replace his son.

This was an incredible journey of one woman who dealt with so much trying to find her voice among a national hero, when all she wanted was a husband and friend and her son by her side.  I was able to read this in 2 days it was that good.
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2 shout outs:

Zimlicious said...

This is definitely high up on my to-read list. Great review, Paula!

thewriterslife said...

Thanks for the wonderful review, Paula!