I’m continuing my spree of fiction based on real-life events with The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. It recounts the adult life of Anne Morrow Lindberg. Yes, that Lindberg. Wife of the aviator, mother of the kidnapped baby. Overall, I really enjoyed The Aviator’s Wife. Let’s face it, it is a fascinating story. Do you sense a ‘but’ coming? ‘Cause I do.
I feel like the title says it all about this book – this is about Charles Lindberg’s wife. That is my major complaint about the book because Anne Lindberg was a formidable person in her own right. Like her husband, she was a pilot. And with her husband she mapped new flight paths all over the world. But the book, while trying to highlight her achievements, ends up always placing her in a subordinate position in her own story, and that ain’t right.
The Aviator’s Wife was also a little lighter than I tend to read. I’m courting controversy here, but I’m going to refer to it as women’s fiction. Like you, I hate the term, but I’m still going to use it. What I mean is that i feel like the book was written for a particular audience in mind, but more than that, it was written to not challenge that audience too much. To understand what I mean, I think you only have to compare this book to Circling the Sun by Paula McLain.
Who would like this book? The story of the Lindberg marriage is a fascinating one. They were really the first couple to be catapulted into the paparazzi frenzy that is now commonplace for most celebrities. Couple that with the kidnapping of their first born, accusations of Nazi sympathies and a myriad of affairs and you’ve got one bang up story. Comparisons to Circling the Sun are inevitable because both novels focus on early female pilots. The comparison is also interesting because of how differently the two subjects are treated.