I knew very little about Charles Lindberg. I knew the basics – he flew solo from the United States to Europe (establishing that it could be done), and he had a baby son who was kidnapped and ultimately killed.
The Aviator’s Wife, by Melanie Benjamin, emphasizes the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, his wife. Through her story, the reader learns about aviation, world history, politics, and another side of the famous Mr. Lindbergh.
Though a novel, (which, as I have pointed out, requires that the reader takes the information with a grain of salt) nearly all of the information the author uses is factual if one is to trust Wikipedia (and heaven knows Wikipedia is never wrong!). Where speculation comes in seems to be the author’s presentation of Lindbergh as a fairly cold-hearted husband and father who loved his wife and children but didn’t display his affection in any kind of way.
The story of the kidnapping was really interesting. Benjamin spent more time around the emotions surrounding the family than she did on the events following the kidnapping. I thought she did a really good job of showing how Anne reacted to this horrific event.
I really liked the character of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She was the daughter of a strong mother and a very prominent father. She grew up wealthy and was well-educated, but never gained any self-esteem. As such, she was completed astounded when Lindbergh selected her to be his wife. As a result, it was years and years before she really stood up for herself.
She was an author, a poet, and an aviator in her own right. She brought up the children almost single-handedly as he travelled around the world. They were, from all accounts, the first people to experience paparazzi, and it strongly impacted their life in many ways.
I really liked Benjamin’s writing. The novel is well-researched. The story seems to be much more fictional than the previous historical novel I reviewed. But the characterizations seem to be realistic. I learned a lot about what the world was like in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.
I enjoyed watching Anne develop through the novel, and grew to like her a great deal. Conversely, I heartily disliked Charles Lindbergh, and am not sure that is entirely fair.
A good read that I would recommend for a book club.