Tuesday, 15 April 2014
The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
I was looking forward to The Astronaut Wives Club, it's always interesting to see how the lives of people around those with important jobs are impacted. I can't imagine what it must be like to know that your husband is going to be blasted into space on a mission that has a high likelihood of something going wrong - how do you cope with that kind of uncertainty? Unfortunately, whilst The Astronaut Wives Club was thoroughly researched and gave lots of information about the wives, it never really gave me that sense of what it was like to be them, what it was like to watch the launch of a rocket carrying your husband, or what it was like to not know if he would live or die. There was a lot of distance from the wives in the book, so I never really got to be in their shoes. And that's what I wanted out of this book most of all.
Similarly, a lot of the topics introduced were never fully explored. Koppel writes on several occasions about the rise of feminism in America at this time, and how this contrasted with the need of the wives to have a cookie cutter perfect family and always look their best. Some of the wives were talented in their own right, but Koppel never really examined these tensions, and whether this caused resentment in their marriages. Lots was made of the infidelity of the astronauts and the resulting divorces, but again this was just reported - I didn't get a sense of what it was actually like. The book would have been better if both of these themes were investigated more thoroughly.
Because of these issues, The Astronaut Wives Club missed the mark for me. It was still an interesting read, and I admire the research Koppel has undertaken, but it wasn't engaging or as thorough as it could have been.
Source: From the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
First Published: 2013
Edition Read: Headline, 2014
Score: 3 out of 5
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Boo. I've been looking forward to this one for such a long time. I think I'll try it from the library after reading your take. Also, I feel like this is being made in a television show, but I could be making that up.ReplyDelete
The library would be a good call. I think it would be a good TV show, there might be more connection to TV.Delete
I felt the same way - the book would have been better if it had focused on just a few of the wives.ReplyDelete
Yes, a focus on a few wives would have been better.Delete
Aww, too bad. I borrowed this book from the library when it first came out, but had to return it unread. Not sure if I'll check it out again or not.ReplyDelete
It's worth a read from the library, but maybe not spending money to get your own copy, if you know what I mean?Delete
Pity. What kind of sources was Koppel using? You'd think if there were diaries and letters, she could at least quote the evocative bits of those to give a sense of what it was like for the astronauts and their wives.ReplyDelete
I think her sources were mainly interviews with the wives, although that was only hinted at. If so, I'm thinking maybe the wives didn't want to give away too much of themselves?Delete
I've always thought of these topics as well (how is family life for astronauts) and I wouldn't mind reading more about it, but it's too bad if a book like that does not live up to its potential.ReplyDelete
I had quite high expectations of this one going in as the topic is so interesting, it's a shame it didn't really work out for me.Delete
I have heard similar sentiments from a few others who read this book. It feels pointless to read about the wives and coming out of it not knowing what that felt like. I think I am more convinced that this book is not for me.ReplyDelete
On the plus side, at least you found out about it before reading it, I guess....Delete
Overall, I really liked this one; however, I think she could've focused on some of the wives more fully and delved into some of those issues more deeply.ReplyDelete
It is a really interesting topic, I'm glad that you liked it more than I did :)Delete
I totally agree with you. It's a good attempt at a fascinating topic, but ultimately fails to deliver on so many levels. I'm also really tired of books about women who are defined by their husbands. Some of these women were truly incredible in their own right, and I would have liked to learn more about that.ReplyDelete
The theme sounds very interesting. Not that ever thought much about astronauts, but I never ever stopped to think about their wives! I think their stories should be rescued as well, but as if you say, they are never fully explored, then it is not worthy.ReplyDelete
Lovely cover, by the way.
Oh maaan. The premise of this sounds so good, but if it doesn't get at all into their minds then what's the point?! I would LOVE to know how it feels to watch your husband go off in a rocket- I'm imagining a combination of fear and pride and also fear again. Also there would probably be crying.ReplyDelete