BOOK REVIEW: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
Genre: Historical Nonfiction
Description: As America’s Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.
Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK’s favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other’s children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.
As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives-they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.
I love the idea of hearing some of the stories of the women in history. Traditionally, there is little written about them, unless they were some kind of genius. There’s no fault in that–I’ll be the first to admit that the role of housewife and mother doesn’t exactly lend itself to a riveting memoir. But in some cases, like these astronauts, their roles as wives and supporters give a new dimension to the story. Just imagine all the months and years of training, where you barely see your husband, all in preparation to do something unheard of and exceedingly dangerous. Then, imagine that because of your husband’s astronaut status, your every move is monitored by the press and under scrutiny by NASA, making sure that you’re presenting “the right” image of what an astronaut wife should be. Imagine the bond you would feel with those other few wives who could understand exactly what you were going through, simply because they were there too.
There’s a great story to be told there, I think. I don’t particularly think this book does them justice. It is very easy reading–something you could finish in an afternoon or two of lazy reading. I don’t want to criticize it too harshly, but it just didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
Still, it’s definitely worth the read if you’re interested in the “wives” story, or the Space Age. I think reading about it (The Space Age) from the wives perspective really brings a new light to the era. It was a really unique time for America and American women.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars