Travel to the Lindbergh baby case – New Jersey
The Lindbergh Nanny and baby
Most of you will have heard of the famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping in 1932. Charles Lindbergh was the famous aviator of his day. On May 20–21, 1927, Lindbergh made the first nonstop flight from New York City to Paris, a distance of 3,600 miles which took him 33.5 hours. His son Charles was only 20 months when he went missing.
On the evening of March 1, 1932, someone came and took the baby from his crib, carried him down a makeshift ladder and carried him off into the night.
The Crime of the century ended in disaster for baby Charles was found dead only a short distance from the house, in the nearby woods. Some say the kidnappers must have dropped him or injured him fatally by mistake.
The scene of the crime was the Lindberghs’ rural home, Highfields, in East Amwell, New Jersey, near the town of Hopewell.
There were several people home at the time – Charles himself, his wife and his nursemaid Daisy Rowe as well as a few other staff. The window in the baby’s bedroom was broken but the kidnappers seemed to know that they would be able to get inside unnoticed. The family weren’t even supposed to stay there that night – the baby had a cold and so their routine had been changed at short notice. Could someone in the house have been involved?
That’s the brilliance of the book I have just read – The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks. She takes the case, the characters and the controversy and shakes them all together to provide some possible answers. What is more imporant however is how she focuses on the nurse maid herself – the one woman who was in charge of looking after this little baby.
Betty Gow – the nanny – comes to live in Mariah’s book. It felt surreal to have been present at one of history’s greatest mysteries. This had always fascinated me – what was she doing? How did she not see anything? What happened afterwards?
Betty hails from Glasgow – so we follow her as she moves to American and ends up looking after her very famous charge. I was curious to know how she viewed Col. Lindbergh (eccentric and often odd), his wife, and the baby.
The author has done her research and really put herself in Betty’s shoes so she is able to do that for the reader. This book was very vivid and the attention to time and place were brilliant. It’s written in the first person so the immediacy and fear are second to none.
I loved the way the author started with Betty’s life and built such a story before we even got to hear about the kidnap. The background and realisation of how Betty came to be there, what she was doing and how she reacted to everything was utterly fascinating. I have read non-fiction books on this issue but nothing like this novel that really brings the story to life.
There is so much to this novel – threads of discovery that weave to paint a marvellous but very sad picture. One baby kidnapped but so many lives changed forever.
At the end of the novel the author writes about”The Real Betty Gow” anjd there’s a nice “The Lindbergh Nanny: Fact vs. Fiction” section to enjoy too. Something about stepping back in time to a real life event. One of the best books I have read that has created something fresh out of a tale well told.