The Aviator's Wife

  • by Melanie Benjamin
  • Narrated by Lorna Raver
  • 16 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.
Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements - she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States - Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness. Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century - from the late twenties to the mid-sixties - and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator’s Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage - revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows. With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure.


Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, January 2013 - I remember hearing all about Charles Lindbergh and his famous solo transatlantic flight when I was growing up. But I never knew much about his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The Aviator’s Wife has been a compulsive read so far, and I can’t wait to hear Lorna Raver’s take on Anne’s life, from plain Jane ambassador’s daughter to paparazzied wife, copilot, and mother of six. —Diana M., Audible Editor


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Megalomaniac's Wife

Found this fascinating. While the story is told from Anne's point of view, it's also an adroit study of Charles Lindbergh ("Lucky Lindy), his effect on our nation and the world, while he struggled with his own private demons, ever increasing fame and decreasing privacy. Socially awkward, happiest when flying or with tinkering with machines, he's a man with a dark side, his own rules of right and wrong, no matter the cost. The protagonist, Anne, (the daughter of an ambassador, kind and highly intelligent, a graduate of Smith College), meets Lindbergh soon after his famous solo transatlantic flight and is powerfully drawn to him, a true hero in her mind and heart.

He was the most famous man in the world for many years and the author well illustrates the pros and cons he and Anne dealt with because of that. Like the very most famous people today, they couldn't leave their home without the paparazzi all over them. Wherever they went, every aspect of their life was dissected and the daily fodder for each and every newspaper and magazine. They craved privacy and found their truest escape in the sky, flying all over the world together. Anne became an accomplished aviatrix in her own right and was her husband's "crew." Enjoyed learning about all they did during that time.

At first I disliked how much Anne put herself down, i.e., questioning how she, of all people, was the one Lindbergh chose to marry. However, as the book moved along, her insecurities helped me to understand why she would do anything and everything Charles asked (demanded, really), even when it went against her own beliefs/feelings and best instincts (for example, Lindbergh's open antisemitism).

Anne's strength and her own convictions grow over the years, through the trials and tribulations she endures (most horrifically, the kidnapping...and the awful aftermath...of their first son, Charles, Jr., only 20 mos. old) throughout their long marriage, as she raises their surviving 5 children, mostly on her own...often not knowing where her husband is in the world. It's incredibly gratifying when Anne begins to blossom and comes into her own as a successful author ("Gift from the Sea") and independent woman, no longer cowered by her husband's authority or craving his approval. I felt like cheering.

If you like historical fiction...or even if you don't...this is a great "read."

Narrator: At first I didn't like the narrator, as I wanted a younger, softer voice to listen to...once I realized the story is is being told from the perspective of an elderly Anne, I fell into the rhythm of her voice and ended up liking her very much. That's saying a lot, because narration is one of my pet peeves. I've bought hundreds of audio books and have learned that poor narration can kill a good story faster than anything else.
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- Audrey

On second thought, I liked it.

I listen to a couple of books a week, half of which go in one ear and out the other. I thought this was one of the latter. I’m not in interested in Lindberghs, aviation or even relationship fiction. I downloaded this for the “rich sweep of 20th century history” promised in the publisher’s blur. On that count I was disappointed, with just a few cameos from evil Nazis and assorted American icons, all marginal to the story. But I kept listening, and find myself still mulling over the novel weeks later.

This is like a series of snapshots of mid 20th century middle class middle American social history, albeit though the lens of an especially privileged member of that group with her voice sometimes muted, sometimes hijacked by her social milieu and particularly by the aviator himself.

If you don’t expect a Virginia Woolf, you may get lost in an engaging listen. I don’t think I would have persisted with a print version, however. I enjoy slow-paced listening but this was at times pedestrian and too melodramatic-- yet made bearable by the narration. No marriage runs smoothly, particularly with a controlling partner, but the novel is less than subtle in portraying the vacillations in the relationship.

Overall - this is much better than chick lit, but not excellent social history fiction. I'd really be interested in reading a review by someone familiar with Morrrow’s letters and diaries. Are the "3 letters" just a literary device - or did she really not know? - it was still kind of an "age of innocence" in social mores. Usually after a fictionalized bio, I turn to a real bio as a follow-up. I had a hankering for an Edith Wharton novel after this, not more of the real Morrow Lindburgh.

The author includes a good afterword. If you want maximum pleasure from the novel, brush up on the Lindburghs after you read it, not before.
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- connie "Narrative makes the world go round."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-15-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio