Leading two lives: Author Reeve Lindbergh tours with her latest

Courtesy Phoenix Books

Reeve Lindbergh is touring with her latest book

Janelle Faignant

Reeve Lindbergh has one of those famous last names that gives her away immediately.

“If I’m introduced to somebody, often people will say, “Any relation?” she said by phone from her home recently.

But she has a benefit that her parents, legendary aviators Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, did not.

“I’m not recognized in person at all,” she said. “Which is great, there’s a kind of freedom that my parents did not have.”

Still, Lindbergh, 72, has taken on the task throughout her life of carrying on her family history, speaking publicly for years in places like the National Air and Space Museum, while trying to maintain a private life at her home in Vermont. For a long time she tried to keep the two separate, but she’s found a way for them to co-exist.

The author of many books, her latest, “Two Lives,” looks at how she bridges the worlds of fame and privacy. She’s currently on a book tour, with many stops throughout Vermont this month: May 15 at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, May 17 at Phoenix Books Rutland, and May 26 at Next Chapter Bookstore in Barre.

The book is told from her personal perspective as a woman who’s spent her entire life in the public eye, not by choice, and it’s also an idea that many people can relate to.

“I think everybody lives two lives, at least!” she said. “If you’re a writer and a mother, or a person who works in a business and then goes home and does something else, absolutely, we live at least two lives.”

Lindbergh’s two lives began before she was even born, when, in 1927, her father at age 25 went from obscurity as a U.S. Air Mail pilot to world fame by making a nonstop flight from New York to Paris, France — the first solo transatlantic flight and the first nonstop flight between North America and mainland Europe. The media spotlight only got more intense when their young son was tragically kidnapped and murdered not long after. Charles Lindbergh, who was vehemently private, fled the attention.

“As I wrote somewhere, if we went out for dinner and a waiter or somebody at the restaurant wanted my father’s autograph, he would make us all get up and leave,” Lindbergh said. “I was furious. I thought why does he care; it’s just an autograph. But I had no way of relating to what they had been through.”

She herself has dealt with years of fielding very personal questions about her family, but has made peace with it, and the questions don’t bother her so much.

In an excerpt from her book she writes, “I have a real or normal life in the country, where my husband and I live on an old farm at the end of a dirt road. … In my Lindbergh life, there are different questions to answer. Instead of ‘How long has she been limping?’ or ‘Do you want a bag for these?’ it’s, ‘What is your favorite memory of your father?’ or ‘Did your mother teach you to write?’ or ‘Did your father really have other families?’”

The journals she keeps, which her mother had encouraged her to do at a young age help to process these experiences, many times have wound up in her books.

“I try to keep anything I’m working on near me. I don’t go to an office and close the door,” she said. “I used to try to sit in a quiet place the way they tell you, a room of one’s own, but I’m terrible at that because I want to know what’s going on. I’m a kitchen table writer.”

“I wanted to talk about life at home and life as a representative of my family,” Lindbergh said about deciding to write this book now. “People ask a lot, how does it work to have a public life and a private life, and is it difficult? I think one of the things I realized is that the more I’m able to accept the history of my family as part of my life, and not keep it separate, the less strange it seems to be part of a famous family.”

Author Reeve Lindbergh

Author Reeve Lindbergh is touring with her new book “Two Lives”:

– Tuesday, May 15: Montpelier – Bear Pond Books, 77 Main St., 7 p.m., www.bearpondbooks.com.

– Thursday, May 17: Rutland – Phoenix Books, 2 Center St., 6:30 p.m., www.phoenixbooks.biz.

– Saturday, May 26: Barre – Next Chapter Bookstore, 162 N. Main St., 2 p.m., www.nextchapterbooksvt.com.


Janelle Faignant

Janelle Faignant is a freelance writer living in Rutland.

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