SHE WAS THE LAST PERSON TO SEE THE BABY…
You may not know Betty Gow’s name – but ‘the Lindbergh nanny’ is infamous. In 1932, all eyes are on Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the most glamorous and intriguing couple in America. But who was paying attention when, one evening in early March, their baby son was stolen from the family home?
The Lindbergh nanny is the first person to discover Charlie missing… and the last to see him that night.
With the world watching on, Betty must discover the truth about what really happened to young Charlie, to clear her own name – and to find justice for the little boy she loves.
A propulsive re-imagining of America’s most notorious crime of the twentieth century, told through the eyes of the young woman who found herself at the heart of the case.
Happy publication today to Mariah Fredericks for The Lindbergh Nanny. My thanks to the publisher for the Netgalley approval.
I’m always fascinated by true crime – the story of 20 month old baby, Charlie Lindbergh, occurring in America in the early 1930s is of course so well known and here Mariah Fredericks has taken true facts and fictionalised them around from the perspective of the nanny who was charged with his care.
Initially from Scotland, Betty Gow was employed as a nanny (or nurse) to the Lindberghs. She had to follow their exacting parenting rules with regard to baby Charlie which even to my inexperienced mind seemed rather harsh and raised questions of safety, especially considering their public profile. Colonel Charles Lindbergh, considered by many of his countrymen to be a hero, seemed a complex character with somewhat of a controlling influence in the marriage with his wife following in his wake.
There are many characters who have an impact on the story in some way, both from the rather large household of the Morrows (Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s parents), and in the Lindbergh house itself. There are too many to get to know in detail, but certain characters form a backdrop to Betty’s life with the couple with one person in particular having a romantic presence in her life.
The story covers Betty’s arrival in the household, the time of the kidnapping and subsequent police investigation and then through to her life afterwards. We see her impressions of Col Charles Lindbergh and his fellow aviator wife Anne, her life as part of their household and how much baby Charlie meant to her. There was one particular event in Betty’s life that revealed the selfishness and thoughtlessness of her employers and I felt so sorry for her. As regards to the kidnapping, I was holding my breath in the lead up to this happening and knowing the outcome, wished that I was reading pure fiction instead of an awful true event.
My initial reaction to Betty was that she was a little prickly, although the more her voice came through the pages, she became an engaging and sympathetic character. The older Betty I had a great deal of admiration for. The public vitriol and hate didn’t seem to end for her, even when she tried to move on with her life and she showed an amazing strength of character. The police investigation seemed particularly hostile to employees like Betty and other Morrow staff who were considered suspects and as history shows, with tragic results.
Mariah Fredericks has written a fascinating and detailed re-imagining of life within the Lindbergh household and the reactions of so many to the heartbreaking turn of events and I thoroughly enjoyed this captivating and atmospheric story. The blend of fact and fiction has clearly been intricately researched – at the end is a short piece on the Real Betty Gow, as well as information as which parts were fictionalised which was extremely interesting. Also included are details of the research sources and if I had more time and fewer books to read, I would be very tempted to follow some of these up.
Mariah Fredericks was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in history. She enjoys reading and writing about dead people and how they got that way. She is the author of the Jane Prescott mystery series.