“The Aviator’s Wife”

Charles Augustus Lindbergh was in the 1920s and 1930s one of the most famous and idolized man of the time.  In the late twenties, he married Anne Morrow, daughter of a diplomat and future US senator.  They were constantly pursued by an adoring public and relentless press. Everyone wanted to see the golden couple.  Their story is the subject of Melanie Benjamin’s newest historical fiction novel.

In her author’s note, she discusses the issue of truth versus fiction in this literary genre.  “It’s the emotional truths that I imagine.”  She believes that only in novels–not letters, or diaries–that the inner life can be explored.  With regard to the historical events,  they are as accurate as she could make them.  Not every detail is included, but she hopes that those who are truly interested will use her novel as a jumping off point.  “As a historical novelist, the most gratifying thing I hear is that the reader was inspired” to learn more.

These two fascinating figures are what moves this novel forward.  Lindbergh molded Anne into a woman that would be his co-pilot in the air as well as on the ground.  Her devotion and love of this iconic hero enabled her to learn to fly, become the first woman to be licensed to fly a glider, write several award winning books, and be the mother of six children.  But her devotion and love also led to a lonely life, filled with self-doubt.

The book begins with the first encounter between Charles and Anne and continues to his death in 1974.   This is definitely Anne’s story–her sacrifices, her sorrows, her heartbreaks.  She becomes the hero of this story; Charles is portrayed as a cold, driven, calculating  man,  who in the end betrays Anne and their children.

Benjamin has written a very revealing story of the marriage of two intriguing people set against the backdrop of the major events of the first half of the twentieth century.

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