When you think of Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, what comes to mind first? I would bet it’s the kidnapping of their son. Next question: What else do you know about them as a couple? I would have been stumped. If asked what I knew about Lindbergh, I would talk about his historic flight. From there, I did not know his story. Thus reading THE AVIATOR’S WIFE by Melanie Benjamin was both an exploration and a treat.
As the book opens, we meet Anne Morrow, the quiet daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico. She spent her early years overshadowed by her well-connected father and her sister who turned heads. Then on a holiday trip to meet up with her family in Mexico, Anne meets Charles, who is just back from his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Charles is intrigued by her, and suddenly Anne is at his side, not only as a romantic interest (though he seemed cold as ice when it comes to romance) but also as a fellow explorer. I had no idea that Anne, too, was an aviator and that they took long adventures together, charting new routes and plotting what would be the future of commercial aviation. They were gone for long periods of time, often living in the most spartan of conditions.
This is a look at the woman behind the man, the story behind the marriage, and the dark and secretive sides of Lindbergh --- and how they affected Anne. I found it to be fascinating reading, and like all good historical fiction, it prompted me to want to read more about the Lindberghs, thus I have a reading list compiled. I have so many more questions I want to explore about them.
As I write this, I am hearing a plane fly overhead, and it makes me wonder what it must have been like when planes in the sky were rare things and air travel was all about exploring.
The weekend that I read THE AVIATOR’S WIFE, David McCullough was on "60 Minutes.” During part of his commentary, he spoke about how many children today do not know much about history. I often realize how much I have forgotten, or know only from facts in history books. Reading this book, I realized the power of historical fiction to send us on a journey of discovery and from there make us want to continue our exploration of facts because a story has both captured and delighted us. Truly fun.