Not A-OK

Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story

By Lily Koppel

When Lily Koppel’s book came out in 2013, I picked up a copy with considerable expectations. While various astronauts have been written about extensively, their wives have been treated like wallpaper, there to prettify the room. Koppel would rectify that, I hoped. But she disappointed me with an expansive, shallow effort that sacrificed a deeper appreciation for what the space club women endured. Many readers appeared to agree, judging by the response to the review, which you’ll find below.

Now, a television show will premiere this year based on Koppel’s book (network, cable, or other source yet to be announced). I’m hoping for better from the show, yet it might be hope dashed. Stephanie Savage is producer and probably showrunner. Her best known work includes Gossip Girl and The O.C. In addition, she served as an associate producer of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. In other words, nothing that inspires hope. You never know, though.

Here’s what I said about Koppel’s Astronaut Wives Club in 2013 on another venue:

In the name of comprehensiveness, Lily Koppel sacrifices a lot, that being a deeper understanding of what it must have been like to be the wives of the astronauts, especially wives of the Mercury 7. In fact,the early pages devoted to the Mercury program are the best part of the book. Koppel probably would have produced a better, more in-depth, and more insightful examination had she focused on these early years. Just my opinion.

Too, much of what she does cover we know already. Long periods of separation, check. Pressure on marriages, check. Horndog husbands (except for a few), check. Tears and breakdowns, check. Bossy NASA, check.

There’s a great book lurking in the subject, that’s for certain. Unfortunately, this isn’t it. Decent reportage at best.

Perhaps a brilliant novelist whose long suit is psychological analysis will tackle the subject. Now, that might be an interesting book.

And no index, no listing of astronauts and wives, nothing you would expect in a non-fiction book of this sort.

The astronaut wives endured a lot and deserve better. A disappointment. w/c

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