The Aviator’s Wife

Written by Melanie Benjamin
Review by Marina Maxwell

Anne Morrow leads a charmed, privileged life, and all her dreams seem to come true when she marries America’s aviator hero, Charles Lindbergh, in 1929. Forty-five years later, she relives intimate memories of their troubled yet enduring marriage.

Our modern obsession with celebrity pales into insignificance compared to the Great Depression, when a whole nation looked to idols to heal its wounds. People would stop at nothing to grasp the essence of “Lucky Lindy” and his wife, invading their privacy in the crazed belief that just to touch them or their child would somehow ease their desperation. When the couple is forced to endure the most horrific family tragedy in full public glare, there is still no escape – if anything, it is much worse. But Charles remains stoic and controlled, with an unflinching belief in his own invincibility that torments the grieving Anne. Later, as war clouds gather, his apparent support of Nazism sees Charles shunned and despised while Anne struggles to restore her own identity beyond the roles of compliant wife and mother. A final stunning revelation tests her love as nothing has before, while it makes Charles accept that “there are punishments for those who dared to dream big, or fly so high.”

Author Melanie Benjamin has produced an exquisite work of insight, sympathy and skill. Like a graceful flight in itself, you soar to the illusory heights of fame only to be plunged back to earthly despair. It is Anne’s long and difficult journey in negotiating these highs and lows that ultimately proves she is the real hero.

This novel is a superb example of how well-crafted historical fiction can bring people and events from the past to life in a vivid and believable way that nonfiction can never quite achieve. In a word – magnificent.