VINTAGE BOOK REVIEW: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

The Blurb (from Goodreads):

When Anne Morrow, a shy college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family, 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 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. In the years that follow, Anne becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States. But despite this and other major achievements, she 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.

What I Thought:

The Lindberghs were incredibly famous in their day, both for their feats of flying, and for the kidnap and murder of their first child. This beautifully written novel reimagines the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh from the time of her first encounter with the handsome but controlling aviator Charles Lindbergh to his death. It deals with his infatuation with the Nazis, the terrible months following their boy’s kidnap, and the writing of Anne’s own book, ‘Gift from the Sea’, which I remember reading as a teenager.

Not being American, I did not know much about the Lindbergs except their name and the fact their first child was kidnapped and murdered. I found this novel really fascinating as it draws in so much about the period. I came to realise just how extraordinary their feats of flying were, and how extraordinary it was for Anne to write ‘Gifts from the Sea’, a book of such beauty and grace, after suffering such a horrible tragedy.

The book is deftly written and a real page-turner – I devoured it in several sittings. It reminded me of Nancy Horan’s books Loving Frank and Under A Wide, Starry Sky in that it is a book about a woman who has lived her life in the shadow of a man but whose own story is just as compelling

The Aviator’s Wife is a really moving and powerful novel about one woman’s extraordinary life – I strongly recommend it.

You might also like to read my review of The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters:

VINTAGE BOOK REVIEW: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

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