ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH: A Gift for Life by Dorothy Herrmann
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Like Herrmann's S.J. Perelman (1986): a vigorous, intelligent portrait of a complex personality. Public events in the lives of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh--lives lived against the grain of Main Street adulation--still bristle in the memories of a pre-WW II generation: the famous 1927 flight; the kidnapping of the couple's baby and the subsequent trial; Charles's pro-German propagandizing (with Anne's published support) while Hitler was on the march. Herrmann probes the intense, obsessive marriage and, in particular, the shy, introspective Anne's sacred certainty that by offering absolute support to her husband, she would secure her own self. From a wealthy, frenetically active family, Anne was oddly attracted to ill-educated, ""boyish"" hero Charles, who liked practical jokes and the poems of Robert Service. (Herrmann quotes their daughter Reeve: ""In large part it was a physical relationship...."") During the honeymoon months, they flew together, the quirky early machines handled with Charles's technical brilliance, the flights beautifully chronicled by Anne. Herrmann details the terrible events of their first baby's kidnapping and the famous trial: ""essentially [the Lindberghs] would remain victims for the rest of their lives."" The author speculates, also, that a victim's rage, horror, and helplessness can lead to a ""messianic sense of mission"" when a global event touches these deadly depths. The hero became a pariah when his involvement in the noninterventionist movement encompassed Nazi sympathies and anti-Semitism. Privately, Anne protested; publicly, she supported her husband. Anne herself would return to public favor in the 1950's with her Gift From the Sea, in which she urged ""islands"" of soul-restoration for women worn by daily cares. (Here, Herrmann offers a dead-center critique of Anne's style.) A convincing portrait of a gentle woman with the inner fiber of piano wire, absolutely committed to a life within a love. A sound work--fascinating and essential.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1992
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin