Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea: Background information when reading The Aviator's Wife

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The Aviator's Wife

by Melanie Benjamin

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2013, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2013, 448 pages

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Beyond the Book:
Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea

Print Review

Anne Morrow Lindbergh is, of course, the aviator's wife in the new novel of the same name by Melanie Benjamin. She is also the author of the widely acclaimed book, Gift from the Sea, which was first published in 1955. Anne Lindbergh wrote it while in Florida, on Captiva Island, and she used the shells on the beach – as a metaphor to reflect on the lives of American women in the 20th century. Gift from the Sea is the kind of book typically categorized as "inspirational"; within its covers it explores many personal and social issues such as youth, age, love, marriage, contentment, peace and solitude.

Gift from the SeaOriginally written as a series of separate essays, Gift from the Sea reads as though it flowed directly from Lindbergh's head and heart, into her pencil, and onto the page. And in essence, it did. Lindbergh wrote about the pitfalls of modern conveniences and multiple commitments while taking a much-needed break from both of them. The book is unsentimental and direct, while at the same time lyrical and full of grace. It is told in a simple, straightforward style, but its content is anything but simple. It is a carefully constructed examination of complicated issues, but because Lindbergh has chosen just the right details, and has sculpted a precise metaphor, her voice is clear and her message is easy to hear.

Gift from the Sea is a classic that has stood the test of time. No matter what year, or what decade, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's words inspire introspection and self-growth to the person whose hands wrap around them.

One such inspiration, in the midst of countless others: "The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea."

This article was originally published in January 2013, and has been updated for the November 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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