Book Review:
The Aviator's Wife

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a pilot and the author of the classic book, Gift from the Sea, among other works. She had six children and was married for more than four decades to Charles Lindbergh, who is best known for completing the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. In the historical novel, The Aviator’s Wife, Melanie Benjamin tries to imagine what Anne was thinking and feeling during her relationship with Charles, which spanned from their first meeting in 1927—just months after his historic flight—to his death in 1974.

Anne’s story is compelling and gripping, and Benjamin’s telling of it pulls the reader along. Even if one is familiar with the key occurrences in the lives of the Lindberghs, including the kidnapping of their firstborn child, Benjamin’s tale will provide insights into what it might have been like to actually go through those events. In addition, The Aviator’s Wife contains shocking revelations about the Lindberghs’ marriage; though this is a historical novel, it is easy to find reputable sources of information that confirm the veracity of the revelations.

However, there are important parts of The Aviator’s Wife that are not true, including a part in which Charles takes Anne on a fascinating airplane flight shortly after they first meet. In the Author’s Note, Benjamin admits that this flight is fictional. A certain amount of artistic license is to be expected in a historical novel—for example, the author of such a novel will have invented most if not all of the dialogue, out of necessity. But it’s a bit surprising and disappointing to learn that a significant event in this book was entirely fabricated.

The Aviator’s Wife gives you a sense of how Anne Morrow Lindbergh tried to be her own person during her long marriage to one of the most famous men in the world. As long as the reader keeps in mind that this is a creative work and doesn’t assume that every event in the work happened exactly as described, The Aviator’s Wife is a worthwhile read.

See more features from the February 2014 issue