Reeve Lindbergh’s family was in the public eye again and again during the twentieth century. In her memoir Two Lives, she reveals personal memories of her parents, the controversial aviator-authors Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Through delightful essays on the nuances of caring for chickens and dealing with the overwhelming family archives that are scattered throughout the country, Lindbergh skillfully reveals tidbits about what it was like growing up in her family, while also confronting broader themes like death and memory.
Addressing her family’s controversies is perhaps unavoidable, but Lindbergh successfully uses Two Lives primarily as an exploration of the simpler pleasures of her life on a Vermont farm, like her favorite rooster soup and her husband’s fascination with trees. This makes for a surprisingly charming memoir about cycles of time, the calm certainty of death for roosters and people alike, and the joys of home cooking.
Seeing Charles Lindbergh through his daughter’s eyes is fascinating. He is at once a decorated innovator and someone who failed out of college. He is a father grieving his son’s gruesome death, and also someone who secretly had mistresses and other children. Lindbergh tells her story as only she could, remaining acutely aware of her family’s faults, but also with a certain unconditional warmth.
Though some topics may appear innocuous, Lindbergh uses them as jumping-off points to tell stories packed with complexity. In one compelling chapter, “Remnants and Recipes,” she hints at her feelings towards her father, blaming him for the addition of canned soup into her mother’s hearty recipes. Yet the appeal of the book is not just the Lindbergh enigma, but also how Reeve revels in memories of eating “ladylike” lunches with her mother, or the nostalgia and laughable disgust of finding odd recipes like “Souper Baked Chicken” among her mother’s things.
The memoir shifts between subjects quickly and seamlessly, weaving the intensely personal and the mundane with charming finesse. The prose has depth while maintaining lightness. Two Lives is an engrossing memoir.
Paige Van De Winkle
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