Pictured above: The cover art of The Lindbergh Nanny, by Mariah Fredericks

Weekend Read by Claudine Wolk: The Lindbergh Nanny, by Mariah Fredericks

Claudine Wolk is an author, podcast host, and book marketing consultant. Find her writing at claudinewolk.substack.com.

Arts News Now’s book review contributor, Claudine Wolk shares the details of local (Hopewell, NJ) fiction novel, based of the true historical event, The Lindbergh Nanny

Mariah Fredericks was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in history. She is the author of fourteen books including two book series. A Death of No Importance, the first in her Jane Prescott series, was nominated for the 2018 Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her latest book, The Wharton Plot, releases this January, 2024!  You can find her at her website mariahfredericksbooks.com.

Plot Summary

The Lindbergh Nanny is a historical fiction novel that reflects the true story of the kidnapping of Charlie Lindbergh and the aftermath of the tragic event from the point of view of the baby’s nanny, Betty Gow.  The book is meticulously researched and fabulously well-written.  It is a humane and readable take on a heart-wrenching American tragedy. Frederick does what every great historical fiction author does and that is – make you thirsty for more information on the topic covered in the novel. The novel also has a local interest.  The Lindbergh estate was located in the heart of Hopewell, NJ. Anyone interested in the local crime story that shook the world will love this book.

The novel is especially interesting to read from Betty Gow’s point of view. The story covers Betty’s introduction to the family from the time of her first interview for the position of nanny through the trial of the man arrested for the kidnapping, Richard Hauptmann.  An immigrant from Scotland, Betty came to the States to find adventure and love.… something different from her home town.  Being hired as the nanny for such a famous family was initially a point of pride.  The reality, however, was less than thrilling for Gow although she clearly loved little Charlie.  Betty is not the only member of the Lindbergh household who is part of the story.  Each employee of the Lindbergh’s had different backgrounds, different lives, and different shortcomings. Fredericks covers them all.  The interactions among all the servants in the household has an intimate Downtown Abby vibe. None of the household are above suspicion by the investigators in the case or by the reader.

The investigation after the kidnapping is described as it happened and the reader doesn’t know if any of the servants were complicit in the crime.  We read along as the members of the household are interrogated and the horrific effects on their lives as a result of the local media frenzy.  When the police arrest Richard Hauptmann for the kidnapping, the Lindbergh staff is free to leave the country and Gow does return to Scotland but returns for Hauptmann’s trial.  Betty’s testimony at trial was unique for the time, at least according to Frederick’s account.  She was confident and assured on the stand as she recounted the last night that she put little Charlie to bed and discovered two hours later that he was missing.  

Frederick’ s meticulous research provides a rich, interesting, well-rounded account of a national horrific event, describing not only the event itself but the media frenzy, the thirst for celebrity, the disgusting consumerism, the discrimination of immigrants, the unfair accusations of the Lindbergh staff in the media, and hints of police and FBI malfeasance wielded to convict their man.  Gow’s portrayal as honest, steadfast and plucky yet real provided the perfect narration.

Overall Assessment:

I loved The Lindbergh Nanny and can’t wait to read another novel by Fredericks.  Her prose is sensational – interesting, thought-provoking, and dense without being unreadable.

 

Title: The Lindbergh Nanny

Pub Date: November 15, 2022

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Page Count: 320 pp

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