Honor and Obey – “The Aviator’s Wife” by Melanie Benjamin

April 23, 2013 at 5:56 pm 5 comments

“The Aviator’s Wife” by Melanie Benjamin, Published in 2012

I really enjoy Ms. Benjamin’s writing.  Her historical fiction (“Alice I have Been”) is extremely interesting and engaging.  She has a way of bringing the reader into the story. I really like this book but I really didn’t like the Lindberghs.

Shy Anne Morrow was the daughter of the American Ambassador to Mexico.  Over the holidays,  Anne takes a break from her studies at Smith College to visit her parents at the Embassy only to find out they are also being visited by none other than the world famous aviator Charles Lindbergh.   Both Anne and Charles are introverts and seem to have an odd connection.   After having no contact with Charles when she returns to school, Anne is surprised when Charles shows up one day at her parents house after her graduation and proposes to her.  Of course, Anne says yes and her life is forever changed.

The Lindberghs live in the public eye and are constantly hounded by the press. Charles however teaches Anne how to be his crew and they travel through-out the world together.   They seem happy-ish together – though Anne, through Benjamin’s account, seems really lonely while Charles is austere and removed.   Then they have Charlie.  Anne becomes torn between being a good mother and being Charles’ crew.  It seems that she is constantly failing at one or the other.  Until the night Charlie is stolen through the window of the nursery.  The couple never quite recovers from the loss of their child.

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anne goes on to have six more children but none of it erases the pain of losing her first child or that Charles, in his arrogance, hindered the police investigation into the kidnapping.  The couple become more estranged when, at the height of Hitler’s reign, Charles latches on to Nazi rhetoric also espousing the antisemitic sentiments of the regime. Of course even though Anne (according to Benjamin) does not agree with his stance, this does not stop her from publishing a pamphlet of support for both her husband and the Nazis.    But eventually, the U.S. joins the allies in WWII and Charles chooses to go and rejoin the U.S. military.   Charles returns to his family after the war but Anne has figured out, in part, how to live without him.  Of course, none of this leads to her seeking her independence or having an honest conversation with Charles, instead she spends the rest of their life together just trying to make Charles proud of her.

I tried to keep in mind through-out this book that Anne and Charles were living in a different era.  An era where women would put up with a lot of nonsense in marriage. But even with that in the back of my mind I found it hard to believe that the Anne that Benjamin portrays in the book is really someone who would stay married to Charles.  Her internal dialogue and drive just seems too strong to put up with his continual self-absorption.  Multiple times in the book Benjamin brings up the fact that Anne had her own trust fund – she could leave at any time.

Honestly, though whether I liked the characters in their fictional state seemed beside the point. Their life story is interesting and that was enough.  The fact that they spent their lives making each other miserable just somehow seems fitting.

Other review to check out: 

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Entry filed under: April 2013 reads. Tags: , , , .

Pride cometh – “Defending Jacob” by William Landay Sometimes cheese is good, even without crackers – a few books with few thoughts

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Book Club Cheerleader  |  April 23, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Emily: Thanks for the link to my review. I agree with your assessment that life is too short to stay with a jerk—especially if you’re as bright and talented as Anne. As you point out, money was not the issue. It was just a different time. You had affairs, but you stayed put. At least legally… Love your blog and have signed up for notifications.
    Cheers! Book Club Cheerleader

    Reply
    • 2. Emily C  |  April 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

      It was a different time but I think (which I meant to write in the review) that Benjamin was trying to make our generation like Anne. So she may have been putting thoughts/ideas in her head that in reality might not have existed. Maybe Anne did agree with a lot of what her husband said and did. I think I need to look more into Anne’s writing.
      I love your blog as well and thank you so much for your comment and for stopping by!

      Reply
  • 3. karenspath  |  April 24, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for the link to my review. I kept wishing that Anne would leave. Then I decided that I need to do my own research… I didn’t like Charles at all, and I had to wonder if he let his fame go to his head or if he was really that arrogant. I’ll be checking out your blog now… 🙂

    Reply
    • 4. Emily C  |  April 26, 2013 at 10:45 am

      I agree, I want to look more into Anne as well. Charles just seemed hideous, didn’t he?
      Thank you for reading my blog!

      Reply
  • […] but not, apparently, happy.  I had looked forward to this book and had high hopes for it.  With The Aviator’s Wife I thought the writing was good but was uninterested in the subject. With “Z” I was […]

    Reply

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.

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