'The Aviator's Wife' author Melanie Benjamin is drawn to 'locked doors and hidden closets'
And I also am looking for women who I suspect are not entirely truthful with the historical record or even to themselves – not intentionally, maybe. I think I'm attracted to those stories where I suspect there are a lot of locked doors and hidden closets that we haven't explored.
Q: What have readers or people you know been most surprised by about Anne?
A: I think a lot of people were surprised primarily to hear of her aviation exploits. During the height of their fame in the early '30s, they were Lindy and Anne together, one breath, and she was certainly admired for her aviation and her exploits at that time. Though I think even at the time, everyone assumed it was Lindy doing everything and Anne was tagging along. Certainly female reporters would not ask her about her skills as a pilot, they would ask her how she was going to set up housekeeping in the plane.
I think that what happened was the kidnapping [of the Lindbergh's baby] so overshadowed and overpowered everything else she had done, I think that was when when we started forgetting that part of her life, because she became such a tragic figure. I think that was what I assumed she was, just the tragic figure.
I also think a lot of people are surprised by her passion in later life. I was pleased to discover that.
Q: One thing that seemed a little surprising was how few times Charles and Anne met before he proposed. Was that composite at all?
A: That really is kind of it. They met in Mexico [when Lindbergh stayed briefly with the Morrows] and then not for months later, until he called her out of the blue to take her up flying again. [Lindbergh proposes after the flight in Benjamin's novel.] And so it really was pretty much how I depicted it. I guess evidently he had been on this mission to find a wife to share the spotlight with, because it was so overwhelming.
Q: I was looking, thinking, "We're on page 80 and they're married?"