My Mommy has been contemplating about how to handle The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. What an absolutely brilliant book. She spend more than 2 weeks reading this one, because she was constantly Googling all the facts. What a wonderful history lesson.
“That is what historical fiction does best. It leaves the reader with the desire to know more.”
Of course we know who Charles Lindbergh was and I guess somewhere we did realize that he had to be married. But just like so many other “famous heroes”, their wives were left in shadows. How marvelous to have discovered that for a change, Anne Morrow Lindbergh wasn’t shuffed into a corner, but rather that my Mommy didn’t know her aviation history all that well. Okay, she actually knows nothing about aviation. She does know a great deal more now, thanks to this marvelous book.
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.
So why are we featuring this book under Wednesday Wisdom and not writing a review? Because there is no use in re-inventing the wheel or the airplane propeller. It’s all right there on Google. But what is not right there on Google, is Melanie Benjamin‘s remarkable writing style and her amazing character building. It really felt as if this was a biography straight from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s pen and not a work of fiction.
My Mommy was making notes and writing down quotes like she’s trying to copy the whole book. She came to realize that some of those quotes captures the essence of this book so much better than any review she tries to write will ever do. Seeing that The Lindbergh’s were such public figures (not always by choice and it came with a very heavy price), it was easy to find pictures and just add the quotes to the picture. Amazing what you can do with a phone these days.
The book opens with The Lindbergh’s travelling to Hawaii in 1974 where Charles Lindbergh would spend his last days. I’m not giving away anymore spoilers, but this quote just proofs that no matter what he’s done, or how he has treated Anne throughout their marriage, she knew him better than any other living creature. He didn’t have a cat. I can’t see him as a cat person.
Anne was an avid reader and we have to hang our heads in shame to say that we didn’t know she was an acclaimed author as well. My Mommy haven’t read anything published by her, but I can guarantee that will soon change.
If you type in ‘Charles Lindbergh’ on Google, Google will fill it in with the word – ‘kidnapping’. I remember there was mentioning of the Lindbergh Kidnapping in Along came a spider by James Patterson, but I never really knew all the details around it. And of course none of us can grasp the devastating effect it had on both Anne and Charles, the nation’s hero who always appeared as cool as a cucumber. It is still known as the crime of the century and it was the FBI Lab’s first major case. Shocking events and it left my Mommy heartbroken.
It’s been said over and over that one is not suppose to outlive your children. How do you ever outlive, and not only exist, after the death of a baby? While reading about the kidnapping of Charles Jnr, my Mommy thought that some events are very familiar. As she is a huge Agatha Christie fan, it didn’t take long for her to make the connection between the Lindbergh Kidnapping and the kidnapping of a baby girl, Daisy Armstrong, in Murder on the Orient Express. Yes, Agatha Christie did base her 1934 novel on the events that happened a mere 2 years earlier. Of course we did watch Murder on the Orient Express on Sunday and cried even harder than ever before.
This book do not deal all that much around the kidnapping and the trial, but more about Anne’s heartache and how the events and the aftermath played a significant role in the years to come. Of course it did. But it also didn’t hinder Anne to become a wonderful mother and homemaker to her four children who were born after the death of little Charlie.
This wasn’t a light or an easy read, but it sure is worth the read. We loved reading about a woman who struggled to find her own voice from under the massive shadow her husband threw over her (in more ways than one). I don’t really care if this was fiction and thus somewhere and somewhat removed from the truth. Truth might be stranger than fiction, but most of the time – fiction just leaves so much more room for the imagination. I would like to imagine that Charles really did care about Anne deeply, even though he behaved like a dog every now and then. I also like to imagine that Anne really did live her later years filled with peace and happiness, basked in the knowledge that she accomplished so much more than what is written in our history books.
Have you read The Aviator’s Wife? My Mommy is not doing her best reads for 2020 yet, she still has a couple of books that she want to squeeze in. But this one will sure make our top 10 list for books read this year.
Lots of Love,