Review: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Friday, March 6, 2015

Title: The Aviator's Wife
Author: Melanie Benjamin
Pages: 401 (including author's note)
Genre: Fiction, historical
Publisher: Bantam Dell (Random House)
Pub. Date: January 15, 2013

In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Overall I enjoyed this book about the life of Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, well enough. But if it hadn't been for this being a book club pick, I probably wouldn't have read past the first 50-75 pages. The writing was fine, but I had expected it to be more literary. And in parts, especially earlier on when describing the blossoming love between Charles and Anne, it reminded me of a romance novel. For example:
"And in that moment, that first moment of flight, of my breaking of the rules of gravity -- I broke the rules of my heart, as well. For I had strictly governed it until this moment; this moment when I gave it, literally and figuratively, to the man seated behind me" (pg. 40 of nook)
(Not to mention the misuse of the term, literally... I suppose that was supposed to be the way the character spoke).

And another example:
"'You're up late,' he said, his piercing blue gaze sweeping over me, taking me all in; the robe was not cinched tightly around my waist, causing it to gape at the top of my thighs. I clutched the worn fabric, but Charles flushed anyway." (pg. 77 of nook).
But then the story moved on after that, considering that in 400 pages it covered almost 50 years. I really didn't know anything about Charles Lindbergh except that he was an aviator and his baby was kidnapped. (I had even been under the mistaken belief, for some reason, that the kidnapping was never solved). I learned a ton about this couple and, really, I found them both so unlikeable! Charles did seem sort of a caricature throughout, but, regardless, he was not a likeable man at all. And while I do understand Anne's thought process at the time for the era she was in, she gave him a lot of control over her. I also found some inconsistencies in the narrative. For instance, when I read this (below) I thought to my self... "B.S.!":
"I despised myself for letting him talk to me like this, and I never would have, before the baby was taken from me" (pg. 196 of nook).
That's actually not true. He spoke to you and treated you like that almost from the beginning. But okay.

So all that out of the way, I did enjoy the rest. We had some good discussions in the book club. I will leave you with a couple other quotes I did like from this book.

"I tried to recapture my passion for language, for playing with words almost as if they were floweres to be constantly rearranged into beautiful bouquets" (pg. 193 of nook)

"Jealousy is a terrible thing. It keeps you up at night, it demands tremendous energy in order to remain alive, and so you have to want to feed it, nurture it -- and by so wanting, you have to acknowledge that you are a bitter, petty person. It changes you. It changes the way you view the world; minor irritations become major catastrophes; celebrations become trials" (pg. 268 of nook)


Penelope Sanchez said...

Excellent book & subject & style of writing. I can't believe I never knew more about this heroic woman Anne Lindbergh. She was the "wind beneath his wings" in all ways. Charles kept many secrets that were explosive even now. A brilliant, poignant book I'll remember & would recommend to anyone.

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