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The Aviator's Wife: A Novel

The Aviator's Wife - Melanie Benjamin This author’s dynamic prose brings the characters to life. In this audiobook, the reader is superb. She is sensitive to the narrative, doing all the voices well, expressing the content with just the right amount of emotion, like a stage performer, enabling the listener to feel the emotions of the characters, and live in the scenes described.
When the book opens, we meet a semi-resentful Anne Morrow Lindbergh, married 47 years to Charles. He is no longer strong and handsome, but rather ill and frail. They are on a plane heading to Maui. Charles has chosen Hana to be the place he takes his last breath. He hopes they both will be buried there together. They are traveling together, for one last time, to this final destination.
As the narrative moves on, we learn more about Anne, who has lived in Charles’ shadow, most of their married life. Her dad, Dwight Morrow, is the Ambassador to Mexico. He is a successful man and he expects Elizabeth, his wife, to be a dutiful spouse and mother to their children. She is an educated woman, a graduate of Smith College, and one day in the future, she will become the acting President of that institution. Anne’s sister Elizabeth was the family beauty and Anne felt like a plain little sparrow when compared to her.
After Colonel Lindbergh’s successful flight, in The Spirit of St. Louis, he is feted by the world. He visits Mexico and meets Anne and her family. He is confident, but shy, doesn’t like social gatherings at all. Anne is rather shy as well, believing she is in her sister’s shadow and could never be preferred in social situations. She retires to the background as an observer. Soon, however, Charles chooses Anne to be his bride. He is not demonstrative in public, but is privately an amorous and affectionate man, although excessively controlling and rigid. His stubbornness and often unrealistic expectations, could border on cruelty. He reacts with cold logic and calmness in most situations, a character trait which stood him in good stead, most of the time, but it was almost his downfall during Hitler’s time.
Always the obedient wife, Anne, like her mother, subjugated herself to her husband’s demands. She was his “crew”. They flew, and she flew with him. It was a time, in history, when women went to college to find a husband, when they were lost without a man to provide for them and so they acted accordingly. Anne eventually gains fame on her own, writing a best seller, “Gifts From The Sea”, based on her meditations about life. It especially touched women of the times.
Anne Morrow was really a thoughtful young woman, given to adventure, even against her better judgment sometimes. Charles tamed her for most of her life. He was so single-minded in purpose, as to be quite selfish and arrogant, believing he was justified in his behavior because he had the one right way. Their marriage was one in which he had the control and power, much of the time, and Anne simply followed his guidance. Her behavior was partly due to the standards of those times and partly due to his very controlling and demanding, rigid personality. He was larger than life; he was the hero who had chosen her when he could have chosen anyone. He persuades her to do things she would think better of, but he always seems to woo her back to his side. He was extraordinarily handsome and popular, and they were the darlings of the world, until World War II, when some of Lucky Lindy’s ideas were contrary to popular belief.
They suffer a well-known tragedy when their first child is kidnapped and murdered. They weather that storm in different ways. Five more children are born, he travels a great deal without her, they no longer “fly” together.
Anne was the first woman to have a license to pilot gliders! She was so accomplished, but often overshadowed by her hero, husband. As the years pass, they begin to have secrets from each other. Anne Morrow Lindbergh eventually finds her own voice and forges ahead, making friends and a life she enjoys, confident and sure of her own place in the world.