The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story
By Lily Koppel
Since we told you about our most hated review, we thought you might enjoy knowing what was our most liked. Sad to say it wasn’t a stellar review of a truly meritorious novel or non-fiction book. Nope.
Sometimes you dash off a blurb of a book review and expect nothing of it. Then, to your surprise, it resonates with people who shared your expectations and were equally disappointed. So it was with Koppel’s really cursory and inadequate coverage of a topic we had high hopes for. More than 9 out of 10 of the hundreds who read the review that follows at the end either found it helpful or concurred with our evaluation.
When Stephanie Savage (known for Gossip Girl) reimagined the book as a limited-episode television event running on ABC, we decided to give it look. Sometimes with the vision and skill of a good show runner a bad book can make for good film. Unfortunately, the television version of Koppel’s book proved as vapid as her book. While the production values, a visually interesting pictorial of the fashions, tract homes and autos of the late 50s and 60s, were quite good, the story line, which included a love interest involving a Life magazine reporter and Louise Shepard, proved mundane, riddled with cliches, and, worst of all, revealed nothing additional about the wives.
Here’s the review:
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 our 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 [included in current editions], 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