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The Aviator's Wife

Cover of The Aviator's Wife

The Aviator's Wife

A Novel
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...More
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...More
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Description-
  • 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 Ambassador's Daughter 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.

    PRAISE FOR MELANIE BENJAMIN

    The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

    "By turns heartrending and thrilling, this bighearted novel recounts a fictionalized life of this most extraordinary of women in prose that is lush and details that are meticulously researched. I loved this book."--Sara Gruen

    Alice I Have Been

    "This is magic! Childhood, sensuality, love, sorrow, and wonder, all bright and complex as the shifting patterns of a kaleidoscope."--Diana Gabaldon

 
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  • From the book

    Benjamin / THE AVIATOR'S WIFE

    chapter 1

    December 1927

    Down to earth.

    I repeated the phrase to myself, whispering it in wonder. Down to earth. What a plodding expression, really, when you considered it--­I couldn't help but think of muddy fields and wheel ruts and worms--­yet people always meant it as a compliment.

    " 'Down to earth'--­did you hear that, Elisabeth? Can you believe Daddy would say that about an aviator, of all people?"

    "I doubt he even realized what he was saying," my sister murmured as she scribbled furiously on her lap desk, despite the rocking motion of the train. "Now, Anne, dear, if you'd just let me finish this letter . . ."

    "Of course he didn't," I persisted, refusing to be ignored. This was the third letter she'd written today! "Daddy never does know what he's saying, which is why I love him. But honestly, that's what his letter said--­'I do hope you can meet Colonel Lindbergh. He's so down to earth!' "

    "Well, Daddy is quite taken with the colonel. . . ."

    "Oh, I know--­and I didn't mean to criticize him! I was just thinking out loud. I wouldn't say anything like that in person." Suddenly my mood shifted, as it always seemed to do whenever I was with my family. Away from them, I could be confident, almost careless, with my words and ideas. Once, someone even called me vivacious (although to be honest, he was a college freshman intoxicated by bathtub gin and his first whiff of expensive perfume).

    Whenever my immediate family gathered, however, it took me a while to relax, to reacquaint myself with the rhythm of speech and good-­natured joshing that they seemed to fall into so readily. I imagined that they carried it with them, even when we were all scattered; I fancied each one of them humming the tune of this family symphony in their heads as they went about their busy lives.

    Like so many other family traits--­the famous Morrow sense of humor, for instance--­the musical gene appeared to have skipped me. So it always took me longer to remember my part in this domestic song and dance. I'd been traveling with my sister and brother on this Mexican-­bound train for a week, and still I felt tongue-­tied and shy. Particularly around Dwight, now a senior at Groton; my brother had grown paler, prone to strange laughing fits, almost reverting to childhood at times, even as physically he was fast maturing into a carbon copy of our father.

    Elisabeth was the same as ever, and I was the same as ever around her; no longer a confident college senior, I was diminished in her golden presence. In the stale air of the train car, I felt as limp and wrinkled as the sad linen dress I was wearing. While she looked as pressed and poised as a mannequin, not a wrinkle or smudge on her smart silk suit, despite the red dust blowing in through the inadequate windows.

    "Now, don't go brooding already, Anne, for heaven's sake! Of course you wouldn't criticize Daddy to his face--­you, of all people! There!" Elisabeth signed her letter with a flourish, folded it carefully, and tucked it in her pocket. "I'll wait until later before I address it. Just think how grand it will look on the embassy stationery!"

    "Who are you writing this time? Connie?"

    Elisabeth nodded brusquely; she wrote to Connie Chilton, her former roommate from Smith, so frequently the question hardly seemed worth acknowledging. Then I almost asked if she needed a stamp, before I remembered. We were dignitaries now. Daddy was ambassador to Mexico. We Morrows had no need for such common objects as stamps. All our letters would go in the special government mail...

About the Author-
  • Melanie Benjamin is a pseudonym for Melanie Hauser, who has written two contemporary novels. She is the author of the nationally bestselling Alice I Have Been and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. Benjamin lives in Chicago, where she is at work on her next historical novel.

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