"The Lindberg Nanny" | Reviewed by Pat Sainz
In 1932, Charles Lindbergh, Jr., 20-month-old son of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and his author wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was kidnapped from their newly-built home in New Jersey. The baby’s body was found two months later near the property. Bruno Hauptmann was arrested for the crime in 1934 and executed in 1936.
In her book “The Lindbergh Nanny,” Mariah Frederick has written an absorbing historical fiction novel that offers a chilling perspective of the infamous kidnapping from the viewpoint of Betty Gow, the Scottish nursemaid hired to take care of the baby for most of his short life. Gow was a real person, as are many of the book's characters and was a suspect for two years until Hauptmann was convicted.
Gow was frequently the sole caretaker of Charles, Jr.. because both Lindberghs were absent months at a time after the baby’s birth. Baby Charles often had a hard time warming up to his mother because she was, in essence, a stranger to him.
Although both parents were home the night of the kidnapping, Gow was a suspect because she was the last person to see the baby. She had left a warped shutter open the night of the kidnapping and had given her boyfriend, also a suspect, a tour of the house as it was being built.
Gow was devastated by the death of the baby. She spent every day and night with the baby until his death. She was the one to identify his body when it was found in the woods. She had made some of the clothes that surrounded his body. The Lindberghs relied on her to describe to reporters and investigators info about the baby’s eating habits, schedule, even his favorite toys.
The Lindbergh’s staff were all suspect, though the Lindberghs never really thought any of their staff were capable of harming their child. Nevertheless, the main characters in the book, all based on real people, saw their lives irretrievably broken by the weight of accusations.
Gow voluntarily left the employ of the Lindberghs before their second child was born. No one would hire her for any type of job, even in Glasgow. Crowds followed and threatened her, forcing her to hide in her mother’s home until the trial was over. She testified at the trial.
“The Lindbergh Nanny” offers a riveting, unusual perspective of a tragic event in history. The epilogue offers a fascinating review of the facts of the tragic kidnapping.
About the Author: Mariah Fredericks is a mystery writer and author of several young adult novels.