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The Lindbergh Nanny


The Lindbergh Nanny

Mariah Fredericks, who has penned the Jane Prescott mystery series and several young adult novels, returns with THE LINDBERGH NANNY, a stand-alone work of historical fiction based on the most notorious kidnapping in American history: the abduction and murder of the Lindbergh baby.

In 1932, Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, were the most famous couple in America. Charles, an American aviator, made the first nonstop flight from New York City to Paris in 1927, and Anne was the daughter of a senator. Naturally, their baby, Charlie, was also born an icon, but the Lindberghs were unique parents who believed in raising their son to be independent from a very young age and keeping photos of him as private as possible. When he was kidnapped, the nation was shocked to its core at the thought of these privileged, untouchable figures suffering such an unthinkable tragedy. But this book is the story of Betty Gow, the nanny who cared for Charlie and soon became a suspect in the case.

"Perfect for historical fiction fans and true-crime aficionados, THE LINDBERGH NANNY is an expertly crafted, shockingly poignant novel that blends the real and the assumed, the mysterious and the known, resulting in a compulsively readable book."

Right from the start, Fredericks does an outstanding job of blending fact and fiction, immersing readers in the life of this Scottish immigrant whose time in America has been full of emotional turmoil thus far. The Lindberghs and their opening for a nanny seems like a last-ditch effort, but also a fantastical one. After all, not everyone gets to work for the most famous couple in America, especially not someone with a sordid past to escape. Betty is shocked by their extravagances and immediately charmed by Charlie, a sweet, lamb-like infant who quickly bonds with her, mainly because his parents are so aloof and strict in their independence-minded parenting.

As much as Betty adores Charlie, and her newfound role in the household, she walks a fine line between being overbearing and needing to give him affection --- not to mention the stress of the paparazzi and rabid fans of the Lindberghs, one of whom attempts to break in shortly after Betty finally finds her stride.

The fame and lack of security for the Lindberghs is an obvious pressure cooker, but Fredericks balances the tension well with sweet moments between Betty and Charlie, as well as tender observances of Anne, whom Betty finds nervous and caring, if at times a bit subservient to her husband. As she grows and bonds with the family, she notices a distinct dissonance between the upstairs/downstairs members of the household, the Lindberghs’ offhand parenting style and their fears of tragedy, and her own growing compassion for Charlie and his mother, even as she continues to be uncomfortable with Charles and his presence in the home.

The circumstances surrounding Charlie’s disappearance are odd, to say the least. Betty is first called back from vacation unexpectedly to help a pregnant Anne care for her son. The Lindberghs are staying in their new house earlier than planned, allowing for less time to know the lay of the land and develop a routine. Finally, and most suspiciously, the window in Charlie’s bedroom is left open as a result of the wood in the frame warping.

Fredericks effortlessly immerses readers in the mystery and ripped-from-the-headlines nature of the kidnapping. Because of her closeness with the baby, as well as her questionable past, Betty quickly becomes a suspect…even though she, perhaps more than anyone else, wants Charlie to be found safe and sound. With public pressure mounting, she sets out not only to clear her name, but to discover what really happened to him.

There is always a fine line for historical fiction authors when writing about real figures: readers want to get inside their heads, but we also want the history to be made clear and factual. Lucky for us, Fredericks not only handles this balance, she transcends and elevates it, crafting a tautly woven, true-crime mystery that also presents her characters accurately according to the time and roles of the 1930s. The novel has obvious intrigue, but it’s also just a plain good mystery and an impressive work of historical fiction. Not only has Fredericks done her research, it seems like she has lived and breathed it, so much so that I often wondered if the real Lindbergh nanny was dictating the book to her.

Perfect for historical fiction fans and true-crime aficionados, THE LINDBERGH NANNY is an expertly crafted, shockingly poignant novel that blends the real and the assumed, the mysterious and the known, resulting in a compulsively readable book.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on November 18, 2022

The Lindbergh Nanny
by Mariah Fredericks