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08 October 2013

Melanie Benjamin: The Aviator's Wife

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Unforgettable Fictional Biography
This is a fictional biography of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly across the Atlantic. Fictional biography is not my normal genre but "The Aviator's Wife" is unforgettable fictional biography. What makes it even more remarkable is how skillfully Melanie Benjamin told the very personal story of one of the most remarkable women of the 20th Century.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was an extraordinary woman to be able to attract Charles Lindbergh, the greatest US hero of the 1920's. The press flocked after Lindbergh making his public and private life a misery. He was probably hounded by the press throughout his life more than anyone in history than Princess Diana. When Anne married Charles and joined that misery she didn't realise what that would ultimately involve.

I didn't realise that Anne was as physically courageous as Lindbergh when she was his "crew" as co-pilot and navigator on many of the pioneering flights that he made after his Atlantic crossing. She was an even more personally courageous person for living with and supporting a person for so many years who was one of the greatest control freaks of all time and continued to make her life a misery right up to the time of his death.

Anne's greatest misery was the kidnapping and murder of her first child. This would be catastrophic for any mother, but it was made worse because it happened under intense public spotlight. After the kidnapping she brought up five more children without much support from Lindbergh in a basically dysfunctional home. Despite this she followed and supported Lindbergh through thick and thin as he roamed the globe prior to the war, especially his contentious close association with Germany and his opposition to America getting involved in the war.

Eventually and wonderfully, in middle age Anne found herself and discovered a life of love and understanding where she was in no one's shadow.

When I read a book on Kindle I highlight parts that I want to remember - this book had more highlights than almost any book I have read. I highly recommend this "true" story of pain and triumph that will remain with you for a long time.

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