Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Aviator`s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

This fictionalized rendering of the marriage  of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her husband the Aviator extraordinaire Charles Lindbergh is simply superb and will rank as one of the best reads of my life.
Beautifully written, Benjamin uses words to paint a portrait of two flawed but charismatic characters, one perceived as a great leader and the second as his willing partner but the complications that seared their characters made their roles ambiguous and while Charles appeared always to be dominate it was Anne who took the reins in an effort to smooth over the easily offended and very prickly Charles and enabled others to overlook his flaws until it became quite obvious that he was anti Semitic.
Their story is one that encompasses almost everything that life could throw at one and it is hard not to feel a lot of sympathy for all of Benjamin`s characters who are finely drawn and fleshed out with an almost magical touch, it is not always easy to like them and Charles Lindbergh left me cold nothing that Benjamin wrote could change that, Anne on the other hand was a complicated delight who discovered her inner self before it was too late and went on to have a life that better suited what she wanted as opposed to what her husband would have for her.
A fast flowing book, it is seamless to read and going back and forth in time  nothing weather truth or fiction is off limits, their lives as Benjamin recounts were big lives and choosing what other than the obvious to write about and incorporate into the tale could not have been easy, Benjamin has however in my opinion got it right and she does the Lindbergh's as a clan proud although I`m not sure that they would agree but that's OK because they don`t have to.
The picture Benjamin paints is a wonderful example of how fictionalizing lives can work, no corners are cut and history in all its glory is brought to our plate even if some of it may not have actually taken place, the big things did and Benjamin does these superbly, her emotional resonance with her characters is at times heartbreaking, never more so than in the aftermath of Charlies kidnapping.
A wonderful read, a delight, not easy in parts but worth the effort, this book will live with me for a very long time. Available by Special Order and via the Library System.

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