Cover image for Dear Mrs. Lindbergh : a novel
Dear Mrs. Lindbergh : a novel
Hughes, Kathleen, 1972-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., [2003]

Physical Description:
302 pages ; 22 cm
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When two elderly Iowans, Ruth and Henry Gutterson, disappear mysteriously on their way home from Thanksgiving, their adult children find a crate of Ruth's letters written to Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In the letters the children read of the origins of their parents' passion: how they first met in 1924 when Henry crashed his Air Mail plane into Ruth's family's cornfield; how Ruth flew alongside Henry as his navigator; about Ruth's passion for flying; and how the birth of her children kept her on the ground.

Author Notes

Kathleen Hughes lives in Bristol, Rhode Island. She attended Yale University and earned her masters in fiction at the University of Iowa Writer's workshop. This is her first novel.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

As a girl, Ruth is fascinated with the daring stunts of barnstorming aviators. As the wife of a bush-league airmail pilot, she learns how to navigate Henry's routes and accompanies him on the flights that crisscross midwestern farm communities, a task patterned after her idol, Anne Lindbergh. Pregnant with their first child, Ruth reluctantly gives up flying, vowing to return as soon as feasible. The birth of their second child interrupts her plans, and when their daughter dies in infancy, shattering Ruth's fragile psyche, she vows just as fervently never to fly again. The promise is kept until, in their eighties, Ruth and Henry take flight once more, only to disappear without leaving a clue as to their whereabouts. Writing lyrically of Ruth's twin passions of family and flight, Hughes' elegantly constructed debut novel gracefully explores the nature of things that vanish and things that remain, of longing that endures and love that transcends, of dreams that die and hopes that survive. --Carol Haggas Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

A passion for flight in the exhilarating early days of air travel and the deep demands of home and family form the background of this bittersweet debut novel. Growing up on an Iowa farm in the 1920s, Ruth Sheehan longs to fly like the glamorous lady barnstormers of the decade, but she isn't even permitted to go to nursing school. When pilot Henry Gutterson, a WWI vet, lands his airmail plane in her parents' field, she's given a chance at love and at flight. As Henry's wife, Ruth navigates his airmail routes in their fragile Jenny, "the Model T" of planes. Pregnancy grounds her, but still she wants "to feel the world fall away from her, to feel the land flatten out and spread" in flight. When her second child dies, Ruth, convinced it is somehow her fault, retreats into private sorrow. She finds some comfort in writing unsolicited and unanswered letters to famous aviatrixes, especially to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, with whom she empathizes for the loss of her child. Though Henry, too, eventually quits flying, years later he encourages Ruth to renew her dream, to fly solo at last, at the age of 80. But Ruth and Henry then disappear during a Thanksgiving holiday, and their grown children must piece together the events of their last days. The trove of Ruth's letters reveals to them the desires and hopes she had long hidden. Hughes tells Ruth's story quietly and compassionately, and readers may brush away tears at the novel's affecting ending. Agent, Paula Balzer. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When we become adults, we may think that we know our parents-until they do something so uncharacteristic that we begin to wonder. Margaret Gutterson finds herself in this situation when her elderly parents go missing. As Margaret and her brother seek clues to their disappearance, she finds her mother's journals-written as letters to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh-and realizes that Ruth Gutterson is not just a farm wife and mother but someone far more complex. Ruth had a passion for flight and even went so far to marry an airmail pilot who literally dropped out of the sky onto her father's farm. But with motherhood and the tragic death of one child, Ruth abandons her dream, determined never to fly again. It isn't until years later that Ruth and her husband take to the air on their mysterious journey. Though Margaret eventually discovers what happened to them, the story is ultimately about her quest for understanding. With her debut, Hughes has given us a wonderful tale of the complexities of family and the way that we resolve inner conflict. Recommended for all public libraries.-Leann Isaac, Jameson Health Syst. Lib., New Castle, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.