BOOK CLUB: The Aviator’s Wife

The-Aviators-Wife

A Story of Triumph and Tragedy

Much to the surprise and delight of the Bookworm Club, Anne Morrow Lindbergh welcomed members to the meeting. Dressed as Anne was facilitator Dorothy Von Brook, who bore a striking resemblance, including hat and gloves, to Anne as pictured on the book’s cover. That likeness was heightened by the large pictures of Anne on display.

Although Anne writes the book in first person, the group began the discussion about Charles Lindbergh. They discussed his upbringing, his emotionally devoid mother, his obsession with flying and engineering, and his aversion to the press.

The group noted, in typical Charles fashion, that he chose his wife because he thought Anne was from “good stock” and the word “love” was never mentioned. Married less than two years after meeting, the couple was continually pursued by the press and the public. Anne became an accomplished pilot in her own right and flew extensively with her husband. The members noted the only time the couple felt safe was when they were in the air together.

The members discussed Anne’s total devotion to her husband, his control of their finances, and his lack of tenderness with his children. They were particularly concerned with how Anne dealt with the kidnapping and death of their first son, Charles Jr. Thereafter, the family lived in seclusion. Anne had no friends and led a very lonely life raising their five children. She was often alone while Charles was away.

The group was particularly disturbed by Charles’ admiration of Adolf Hitler. Members were also dismayed that Anne appeared to have similar sympathies, as evidenced in her book The Wave of the Future. Was this further proof of Charles’ domination over her?

Members discussed at length another of Anne’s books, Gift from the Sea, published in 1955. Judged to be filled with gentle, meaningful messages, the group felt the book gave an insight into the remarkable life of Anne.

Though this book is fiction, members felt it provided an insight into the lives of the Lindberghs and, in particular, how Anne lived in Charles’ shadow, struggled to find a life of her own, and dealt with his extramarital affairs and illegitimate children. The group was nearly unanimous in its recommendation of this historically accurate novel.

About the Author
Melanie Benjamin is the pen name of Melanie Hauser. Born in 1962, she was an avid reader as a child. She attended Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, where she met her husband, Dennis Hauser. She wrote for local magazines and newspapers before recognizing her love of fiction. She decided to merge her passion for history and biography with her love of fiction. The Aviator’s Wife is her third book. She has written Alice I Have Been, based on the woman who inspired Alice in Wonderland, and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb about the wife of dwarf circus celebrity Tom Thumb. She says: “I am looking for women who I suspect are not entirely truthful with the historical record or even to themselves — not intentionally, maybe.” Benjamin lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons.

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