The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

This book comes highly recommended by Jan Forrest, president of the library board of directors and extensive contributor to the Slippery Rock Community Library. It is a historical fiction novel told from the point of view of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She’s an author in her own right, but she’s more famously known as wife of Charles Lindbergh (the first man to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean) and mother of the Lindbergh baby. The book covers the trials of her marriage to Charles Lindbergh–who the reader sees is just as flawed as any other man, regardless of his celebrity–and the difficulty of having her accomplishments constantly overlooked, while being held at the mercy of American press.

The Aviator’s Wife is a remarkably convincing story filled with emotion and a great deal of melancholy. It covers Anne and Charles’ first meeting through their marriage and Charles’ eventual death in 1974. This is not a spoiler because the narrative is told beginning at Charles’ deathbed and works through flashback, with occasional interruptions as Anne and Charles have their final moments together.

Melanie Benjamin does an excellent job of conveying exactly how it must have felt to be in Anne’s various situations–sudden new fame as a celebrity wife, her tumultuous relationship with her husband, bereavement and grief as a young mother, and abrupt revilement from the American press. This book really places the reader in the mind of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and makes it easy to empathize with her–but be aware that her life is not necessarily a happy one, and the reader must experience tragedies with her.

This is also a good book to read if you aren’t very familiar with Anne Morrow Lindbergh. High schools teach students about Charles Lindbergh, but Summer Intern Brynn, who is majoring in literature, wasn’t even aware that his wife was an author and aviator in her own right. The Aviator’s Wife also has compelling feminist themes–one can see in the very title that Anne Morrow was never regarded as a self-made woman, and it’s interesting to realize exactly what she accomplished in her lifetime that went completely unnoticed. Benjamin is extremely dedicated in her task of unveiling the truth to the reader, but in a compelling and readable way.

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