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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Review: The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

the aviator's wife
The Aviator’s Wife
by Melanie Benjamin
ARC, e-Book, 417 pages
Delacorte Press
January 15, 2013
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received via Netgalley from publisher for review

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.

Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century—from the late twenties to the mid-sixties—and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator’s Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage—revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows. With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure.

I have been fascinated by the Lindbergh’s since I first saw a story about them and their kidnapped child in my READ magazine in 6th grade. It wasn’t something I learned about in school otherwise and not in history class; I’m confident that if that outdated magazine had not come into my possession, I would likely have made it through school without ever learning about them. Of course Charles Lindbergh is known most for his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean, but what does the world know about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I knew virtually nothing.

I love that Benjamin chose to tell the story of Anne. She was always the child in the family that stayed in the shadow, but upon her engagement and marriage she was thrust immediately into the spotlight. She did an amazing job of creating the woman who had to walk a line of identity trying to figure out who she was for the public, for Charles, for her children, and finally for herself. The struggle is palpable and really the heart of the story. I found Charles to be a very dislikable character most of the time which is the exact opposite of the heroic image that is and was portrayed to the media.

The most interesting element for me was the way the story was structured. It bounces back and forth between the “present” which is with Anne accompanying Charles to Hawaii as he is dying, and the past of her life with Charles from the time they met. During my time reading I hated this structuring. I already didn’t like Charles and I really didn’t care that he was dying and I felt like I should. But as I look back on the experience a week or so after reading it I do appreciate the structure more. It showed how much Anne had grown and changed from when we first met her and when her time being in Charles shadow was coming to an end. I also think that the times that were chosen to break into the narrative and jump to the “present” were well chosen to flow with either the emotions or events transpiring between both times. I also really liked how more recent revelations about Charles Lindbergh were woven into that “present” storyline.

Overall this story pulled at the heartstrings and told a compelling story of a woman who lived her life in the spotlight while at the same time was not seen.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Melanie Benjamin:

the swans of fifth avenue
The Swans of Fifth Avenue

alice i have been
Alice I Have Been

mrs tom thumb
Mrs. Tom Thumb

the girls in the picture
The Girls in the Picture

Find Melanie Benjamin:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I read this one a few years ago. I remember I liked it very much, but I don't remember much else about my thoughts. I reviewed it on my blog at the time.


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