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Based on its reputation as one of the seminal works of Feminism and a callow belief that the author was merely riding her husband's coattails to fame, this is a book that I have pretty studiously avoided.  As it turns out, that was a colossal mistake on my part.  This little book contains more interesting and compelling thoughts on the nature of human relationships, particularly the marriage relationship, than just about any other book I've ever read.

It's not possible to address them all here, but here are two ideas that I found particularly striking.  Here is a passage describing a quality marriage:

    A good relationship has a pattern like a dance, and is built on some of the same rules. The partners
    do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay
    and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart's. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern
    and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place
    here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand, only the barest touch is assign.
    Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back - it does not matter which. Because they know
    they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly
    nourished by it.  The joy of such a pattern is not only the joy of creation or the joy of participation,
    it is also the joy of living in the moment. Lightness of touch and living in the moment are
    intertwined.

    When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment
    to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of
    us demand.  We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at
    the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on
    permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in
    growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass,
    but partners in the same pattern.

    The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping,
    even.  Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward
    to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as
    it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now,
    within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and
    abandoned by the tides.

This image, of a loving couple as partners in a dance, not gripped in a hammer lock, but tracing a unified pattern via different steps, just seems profound to me.  We all know people who demand of love that it be unchanging, or demand of a partner that they do things in lockstep; these people are never happy and we immediately recognize their relationships as unhealthy.  At the same time, we recognize the good marriages around us as the ones where each partner is confident enough in the other to have faith that their separate paths will remain intertwined and will lead to the same place.

The other section that truly brought about a personal epiphany, was when she says:

    ...marriage, which is always spoken of as a bond, becomes actually, in this stage, many bonds,
    many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm.  The web is
    fashioned of love.  Yes, but many kinds of love:  romantic love first, then a slow-growing devotion
    and, playing through these, a constantly rippling companionship.  It is made of loyalties, and
    interdependencies, and shared experiences.  It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of
    triumphs and disappointments.  It is a web of communication, a common language, and the
    acceptance of lack of language, too; a knowledge of likes and dislikes, of habits and reactions, both
    physical and mental.  It is a web of instincts and intuitions, and known and unknown exchanges.
    The web of marriage is made by propinquity, in the day to day living side by side, looking outward
    and working outward in the same direction.

As I read that, I was reminded of some of the marriages i've never been able to fathom, from my own grandparents to that most analyzed relationship of our day, the Clintons.  The notion of the years together creating a web and of reaching a point where you, the couple, are within, looking out in the same direction, seems to me to go a long way to explaining such marriages.  Think of how completely the Clintons are entangled within their own unique web, how insular their world must be, and, so long as they do work in the same direction, their relationship at least starts to make a little sense.

There is much more here besides.  I approached with trepidation, fearing a chick book, and found instead a marvelous exploration of the human condition in general and of the extraordinarily complex nature of marriage in particular.  It is a book that anyone will benefit by, especially actual or  prospective husbands and wives.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

Websites:

See also:

Women Authors
Anne Lindbergh Links:
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: Your search: "anne morrow lindbergh"
    -CHARLES A. AND ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH FOUNDATION
    -INTERVIEW: Anne Morrow Lindbergh on: Charles Lindbergh (American Experience, PBS)
    -UNITED STATES ARMY AVIATION CENTER: THE ORDER OF ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH
    -NATIONAL WOMEN'S HALL OF FAME: Anne Morrow Lindbergh  1906-
    -National Aviation Hall of Fame: Anne Morrow Lindbergh
    -Women in Aviation and Space History: Anne Morrow
    -AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Lindbergh (PBS)
    -AITLC Guide to Charles Lindbergh (The ACCESS INDIANA Teaching & Learning Center)
    -The Lindbergh Case: Trial of the Century (Hunterdon Online)
    -Famous Trials:  The Trial of Bruno Hauptmann:  The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Trial  1935 (University of Missouri-K.C. School of Law)
    -Theft of the Eaglet (Russell Aiuto, Crime Library)
    -The Sky's the Limit - Volume III: A Place in the Sky
    -BOOK LIST: A Baker's Dozen - Jimmy Buffett's Books to read on a desert island
    -LINKS: Anne Morrow Lindbergh Waypages
    -ESSAY:  The Odyssey and the Argonautica:  Charles and Anne Lindbergh's Voyages of Discovery (ELIZABETH S. BELL)
    -ESSAY: (David McCullough, NY Times Magazine)
    -ESSAY: HER WORDS, HIS MUSIC   (BARBARA GAMAREKIAN, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: Margot Hentoff: An American Tragedy, NY Review of Books
        Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1929-1932
    -ARTICLE: Lindbergh family bashes biographer: They claim she told them she wasn't writing a biography; she claims she told them she was (Craig Offman, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH Her Life. By Susan Hertog (Emily Eakin, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Anne Morrow Lindbergh: A Biography by Susan Hertog  (David Gelernter, Commentary)
    -REVIEW: of Anne Morrow Lindbergh  By Susan Hertog (Donna Seaman, ALA Booklist)
    -REVIEW: of  Anne Morrow Lindbergh  By Susan Hertog (Shelby Hearon, Dallas Morning News)
    -REVIEW: of  LOSS OF EDEN A Biography of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. By Joyce Milton (Ellen Chesler, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of   WARTIME WRITINGS 1939-1944 By Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Translated by Norah Purcel (Nona Balakian, NY Times Book Review)
   -ESSAY: A Grounded Soul: Saint-Exupery in New York (Stacy Schiff, NY Times Book Review)

Book-related and General Links:

REEVE LINDBERGH:
    -PROFILE:  Flight From Celebrity (Bob Thompson, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of UNDER A WING: A MEMOIR, by Reeve Lindbergh (Frank Allen, Catholic News Service)
    -REVIEW: of PAST FORGETTING My Memory Lost and Found. By Jill Robinson (Reeve Lindbergh, NY Times Book Review)

GENERAL:
    -Aerogirl: A not-for-profit society focused on helping women in aviation
    -REVIEW: Gore Vidal: Love of Flying, NY Review of Books
        The Winged Gospel: America's Romance with Aviation, 1900-1950 by Joseph J. Corn

Be sure to also read:

Berg, A. Scott
    -Lindbergh (1998)    (read Orrin's review, Grade: A+)

Lindbergh, Charles A.  (1902-1974)
    -The Spirit of St. Louis (1953)   (read Orrin's review, Grade: A+)

de Saint Exupery, Antoine (1900-1944)(trans. Katherine Woods)
     -The Little Prince (1943)   (read Orrin's review, Grade: A-)

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