This summer, I read a provocative and alluring historical fiction — The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin — based on the life of Anne Morrow Lindberg. As a result, I want to know more about this woman! How much of the fiction is actually true? I am eager to read my recently purchased Against Wind and Tide, enumerating her letters and journals from 1947-1986.
I did read her little gem: Gift From the Sea, in which she deciphers her own life within metaphors of seashells during a few solitary weeks on the beach. I assumed I had read it before as a visual of the small volume is so familiar to me, probably from handling it in my library collections. But, in reading the small, potent volume, I discovered I had not read it before. The Aviator’s Wife alludes to Anne’s sharp mind but does not adequately exemplify what a brilliant woman she was. I fell in love with her in the novel, but I am in awe of her from Gift From the Sea!
My copy is a 50th anniversary edition with an introduction by her daughter Reeve. She speaks of the “enormous, sustaining strength” of her mother and admits to reading it at least once a year. If my mother had penned these words, I certainly would be reading it often as well! The intellect of this woman shines through in her words which is not adequately explained in the novel. From the fiction, I knew she was a brilliant woman, but had no idea of the depth of her perception as gleaned from reading the tiny tome, Gift From the Sea.
She chooses a type of shell for each chapter to exemplify a life stage and how our lives are fashioned after this shell. Brilliant! The first shell she chooses represents her busy life as wife and mother within an active community. In spite of her overloaded life, she strives to be at peace with herself.
One of the greatest gifts of this tiny book is the ability Anne has of describing a woman — the reader as well as herself, at diverse stages of life with varying degrees of commitments, and how we respond to life. She presents definite, sonorous accounts for each juncture of life. Something worth pondering.