The Aviator’s Wife
by Melanie Benjamin
In the same vein of Loving Frank, Clara and Mr. Tiffany, and The Paris Wife comes this novel; a fictionalized account of the actual life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh; wife of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and author of Gift of the Sea. All of these books tell the story of women who are paired in one way or another with incredibly strong and difficult men. These brave women spend their lives trying to appease or compensate for their brilliant but deeply flawed partners and this book paints a painful picture of that lonely life.
“He didn’t respond; we glared at each other for what seemed like the entire length of our marriage, right there – spreading, like a noxious stain, between us, pushing farther and farther apart.”
One of the things that really stood out to me is how horrifying it is to lead a life in the spotlight. There is no anonymity. Every time a celebrity goes to a movie or the grocery store they take the chance that they will be mobbed by the paparazzi. It was the same for the Lindberghs, America’s first couple of the air. They were surrounded by fans whenever they were and that attention is both exhausting.
(Photos of Lindbergh exhibits at the Newseum in D.C.)
I loved learning more about Anne’s life. Her book Gift of the Sea meant a lot to me, but I didn’t realize that she also got a pilot’s license and took solo flights. She withstood so much pressure and grief throughout her life, but somehow she found pieces of happiness and peace to hang on to.
BOTTOM LINE: Heartbreaking, but hard to put down. It was difficult to watch Anne sit back and let her husband run her life, but I also admired her quiet strength.
“What need was there for words, when we had just shared the sky?”
"I had been a passenger in our life together for far too long."
“I’d thought marriage would mean I’d never be lonely. Now I knew: Marriage breeds its own special brand of loneliness, and it’s far more cruel.”
“Unlike men, women got less sentimental as we aged, I was discovering. We cried enough, when we were young; vessels overflowing with the tears of everyone we loved.”
Pair with a viewing of The Spirit of St. Louis and Murder on the Orient Express. Both have ties to the Lindberghs, but in very different ways.