Thursday, March 21, 2013

REVIEW: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

 Synopsis (from Amazon):  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.

My Thoughts: Having really loved The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, I was very excited to read The Aviator's Wife.  Aviator's Wife tells the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, daughter of the Ambassador to Mexico and pretty much a shy unassuming wallflower who was constantly outshone by her sister.  She is plucked from obscurity when she catches the attention of Colonel  Charles Lindbergh- a larger than life presence who has achieved world wide fame for his feats in aviation.  The match seems a bit improbable but Charles sees in Anne an adventurous spirit.  The marriage is not an easy one as Anne wishes for love, romance, and affection which are things seldom shown by the closed off Charles.  Charles finds in Anne a partner to share his exploits and aviation ambitions with and in an attempt to please her husband Anne pours herself into this role.

Anne is a character that has to grow on you because she sets so much of herself aside to be the person her husband wants her to be, but if you stick with her you may be pleasantly surprised.  There was much more to this woman than being Mrs. Lindbergh and just as she does with Lavinia Bump in Mrs. Tom Thumb, Benjamin excels at taking the reader into the mind and heart of her subject.  I was pulled in by this woman's struggle to forge her own identity outside of her famous husband (which she did in part with her talent for writing) and also felt for the couple living in a bubble as they were hounded relentlessly by the media while trying to live their lives normally and while dealing with great tragedy.

I have a couple of minor hiccups.  While this one may be a bit petty I was slightly annoyed by the overuse of the word "jaunty".  Anne's jaunty wave, her jaunty smile, the jaunty tilt of a hat....  It just grated on me a bit after awhile.  The pacing of the book was a bit slow in spots but it kept picking up again and so held my interest.  Also I was left to wonder if Charles Lindbergh had any redeeming qualities at all because here he is so cold and controlling, almost robotic and is constantly portrayed as only caring about his own ambitions whether they be in aviation or politics.  I found myself thinking there must be more to this man and since the point of view is that of his wife looking back on 40+ years of marriage it is surprising to get such an unflattering portrait of him. 

Despite these things, I really did enjoy this book although maybe not as much as The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.  I really like Melanie Benjamin's writing style and have also heard great things about her first novel Alice I Have Been.  I will definitely be picking that one up soon and can't wait to see who she chooses for a subject next.

 I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I will admit that this one wasn't one of my favorites. I really didn't like Charles Lindbergh in this one at all.


  2. Really interesting review, Holly. I had only heard fantastic things of course, so I thank you for your honesty.

  3. I want to get to this one. Thanks for an amazing review.

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