“Even now, I think of flying as a refuge; gliding with the birds on the currents, the sky a great silent cathedral surrounding you. And although I know differently–my ears sometimes ring with the memory of the roaring of those early engines–I imagine him crossing the ocean in silence, a young man, his hand on the control stick and his foot on the rudder, alone with just his thoughts; for the first and only time in his life, free from expectations. Free from the burden of living up to the legend that awaits him a mere twenty or so hours away, in a primitive airfield just outside of Paris.” Melanie Benjamin, THE AVIATOR’S WIFE
THE AVIATOR’S WIFE by Melanie Benjamin will be published tomorrow and is 396 pages. I loved Benjamin’s first historical novel, ALICE I HAVE BEEN, so I was eager to read her latest, and picked up an ARC at a book festival.
Benjamin’s novel is the epic story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh, and the joys and tragedies of their long marriage, including the kidnapping of their son. Like many women of her time, Anne’s role is considered in tandem to the men in her life. She is the ambassador’s daughter until she becomes the aviator’s wife, and then the mother of the aviator’s children. It isn’t until she survives some of her own remarkable achievements and true tragedy that she begins to emerge from the shadow of those around her.
From the opening chapters of the book when young Anne meets the serious and mysterious young pilot, Lindbergh, and becomes his flying crew on his many travels, I was spellbound. The period detail, the incredible tales of adventure Anne and Charles faced in their early marriage–including the relentless hounding of the paparazzi–and the devastating abduction of their eighteen-month-old son, make THE AVIATOR’S WIFE impossible to put down. Anne is a dynamic and likable protagonist who struggles to balance the need to forge her own identity while staying loyal to her husband. She makes mistakes along the way, but her self-knowledge and loyalty become the very traits that account for her literary successes and eventual claim on her life and its definition.
From plane crashes, to Nazi Germany, to the literary scene in New York, THE AVIATOR’S WIFE is a multi-generation novel that book clubs and readers of historical fiction will devour. Fans of THE PARIS WIFE and LOVING FRANK have a new story to add to their list of favorites. I give THE AVIATOR’S WIFE my highest recommendation, and because I loved it so much, I’m hosting a giveaway. Please comment below by midnight on Thursday, January 17th for a chance to win, and please spread the word. The winner will be announced on Friday, January 18th.