Wednesday, March 19, 2014

THE AVIATOR'S WIFE by Melanie Benjamin

I know the usual stuff about Charles Lindbergh, including his Nazi-leaning political position, some of which I gleaned from Philip Roth's The Plot Against America.  However, I knew absolutely nothing about his wife Anne until now.  This novel certainly addresses Lindbergh's flaws, but Anne is not the world's best role model, either.  Overshadowed by her siblings, she has major identity issues, even before becoming Lindbergh's puppet.  After her firstborn is notoriously kidnapped and killed, she loses some of her confidence in her heroic husband and devotes herself to her family.  As he becomes increasingly more despicable, though, she follows along, even penning a defense of her husband's warped pro-Hitler opinions, further alienating both of them from horrified friends and family.  The author justifies the Lindberghs' admiration of Germany, because Hitler gagged the press, giving the Lindberghs a welcome respite from the constant hounding that forced them to live abroad for a time.  Honestly, I just didn't like Anne very much.  Her myriad accomplishments as an aviator in her own right are quite stunning, proving that she had some spunk buried inside somewhere.  I kept wishing and waiting for her to rebel against the man who insisted that she stifle her grief over their dead child.  The fact that she refused to be buried next to him on Maui speaks fathoms about her true feelings.  If only she had been a little more independent while he was still alive….  If you like historical fiction with flawed characters, check out Melanie Benjamin's earlier novel, Alice I Have Been.

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