The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story

by Lily Koppel
3.4 101


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The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 101 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a phenomenal book focusing on the wives of famous astronauts and their own leakage into the world of fame and high society. I really like Lily Koppel's writing style. She keeps the book moving at a quick pace with well developed characters. It was a sheer joy to read.
irishclaireKG More than 1 year ago
Troubling Yet Readable. This is an entertaining and fast read on a subject that needs to be explored. The women depicted here were--and are--inspiring. Their stories are full of heartbreak, determination, fear, incredible strength, strong friendships, and yes, some humor. What they had to go through in dealing with sudden fame, largely single parenting, dealing with the press, living facades of 'perfect' lives in the public eye, coping with astronaut groupies, infidelity...there is an amazing and important book to be written about these women. Sadly, this is not it. I am really stunned editors let this go the way it is. There are errors in it regarding historical events that should have been checked with a three click Google search; there is no established tone or perspective. The author does not seem able to pin down what tone or view she wants to take so for large chunks in the first half this is written in an almost cheesy way, with 'wink winks' to the reader and vastly annoying reliance on the juvenile exclamation point punctuation that, at times, makes the text read like a student essay. The first half of the book, which concentrates on the original Mercury wives, reads as much lighter (despite their experiences with tragedy and trauma) than the second half that seems to take a different tone: darker, more serious. At one point, the events are related through the perspective of Norman Mailer who had been assigned to interview the wives. There is no transition into this--it just happens. Lack of transitions is another stylistic problem; the text moves between more in depth descriptions and then, suddenly, more anecdotal tidbits. You could get whiplash from the leaping from story to story, tone to perspective. As there are ultimately dozens of people to keep up with, this lack of clear structure becomes a greater problem as our subjects become much harder to keep straight. There is no appendix; there is no documentation of who said what or when. Where did all this come from? The author's notes generally mention she had talked to some of the surviving wives; at least one did not take part--but the others 'shared their memories.' There are pages of quotes but whose memories are we reading? I am very surprised endnotes, internal documentation, footnotes--something--were not used to identify and verify research. Finally, the scope of this is WAY too big for a book under 300 pages. These stories and these women deserve their own 'Right Stuff' and for the first half of the book I thought the Mercury wives were going to get it. It is the most thorough and detailed. But once the author brings in the later generations of astronauts and wives...this either needed to be a much longer text or the scope needed to be narrowed to the original wives. If none of these inconsistencies and questions bothers you--this is a fast, entertaining and very beginning glimpse into these remarkable women's contributions. But the really definitive work has yet to be done, I think.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I expected from a book featured on NPR. Not only is it poorly written and edited but the tone is misogynistic--not unlike Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff which, by comparison, at least made these women seem like human beings. Sad to think that a female "writer" would not take the time to develop these women's stories beyond some superficial research. Shameful that any editor or publisher would allow thiis to be published as it is and to waste readers' money. I lived at Edwards AFB during the early space program. My father was an Air Force engineer who worked on the program. These families were at times their neighbors. All of them were involved in something pretty amazing. This book glosses over their achievements and makes a mockery of the program, the astronauts and their wives. They may have been flawed and caught up in something out of their control, but like most military wives they did it with grace. The perks they received could never compensate for the risks they took on and the hard work involved. Bottom line: very bad book, pretty much a waste of time and money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to finding out more about a group of women that very little is known about. The book really did not enlighten me any more than I already was. The writing style is breezy and it is a quick, easy read, but the lack of depth was really disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I live in the NASA community and was rather disappointed with this rambling sketch of the lives and experiences of the astronaut wives. The author skips back and forth in time tothepoint of confusion. More time is spent on the Cape Cookies issue than on the character development of the main characters. The issue of faith was glanced over but never to any meaningful extent. Buzz aldrin took the sacraments of holy communion on the moon, something most people dont know because then,as now, it was not considered PC. I would have expected this profound act to have warrented at least a mention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once I started it, I couldn't put this book down. It is a real page turner. I loved the rich characters and unique plot. Two thumbs up.
BookloverSD More than 1 year ago
This outstanding book not only tells of the astronauts' wives' lives after fame hit but also how women lived during those time. What did the wives focus on? How did they present themselves to the public? How were they treated by the press? But it also looks at the pressures they lived under--it is hard enough being a military wife without having to be the perfect military wife. The stories are personal, the candid pictures are good, the press release pictures show a life that no one ever lived.
TurboLink More than 1 year ago
If someone were to set out to write an addendum to Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" using his style, language, and sense of humor, Lily Koppel has done exactly that. Having grown up admiring the original Mercury astronauts when I was a teenager, I've enjoyed many of the stories written about them and that era of space exploration. The Astronaut Wives Club is the asterisk "*" on many of Tom Wolfe's stories, or even those in books authored by the astronauts themselves through the years. It includes very honest, informative, and often humorous-to-sorrowful insights to what the wives went through as their husbands had the world watching their every move. It answered questions on many things I've wondered through the years, but also left me curious about new topics that are touched on in this book, but not fully addressed. One plus, most books on our astronauts end with Apollo crew members. This one also includes those who flew the Space Shuttle. While I enjoyed reading it immensely, I am only giving it 4 stars because I would have liked for the author to have made it twice as long with twice the information. I sincerely wanted to know more from the astronauts wives, especially from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo families. But I support the privacy and respect on certain matters that Lily Koppel gave the families. Very well researched, very comfortable reading. If you're a baby boomer, chances are you'll really enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm still reading this and really want to like it. However, I find myself irritated at the author's emphasis on the wives' appearance or perkiness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It tells the story of what goes on behind the picture perfect image of an astronaut's wife. Very interesting to read. The narrative is easy to follow and filled with fun twists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really interesting accounts of the space race and surrounding time period from the homefront's perspective. As a military wife of a Navy pilot, there were some things i could relate to. I thought certain narratives or stories could have been better "fleshed out".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“The Astronaut Wives Club” is the first book, that I’ve run across at least, that attempts to tell the story of the beginnings of America’s space program from the point of view of the wives. Many thousands of pages have been filled telling the stories of the astronauts, engineers and even administrators. I’ve ready no few of them myself. But until now, nothing told the stories of the families. A signal example is Ed White, I can’t count how many different places I’ve read the tragic story of how we lost the first American to walk in space to a fire in Apollo I. And of course it is nearly always duly noted that he left behind a young wife and family. What happened to them? How did the loss of their husband/father affect them? None of these histories say until now. This book isn’t without its flaws. Particularly early on the tone shifts from objective to snarky to gossipy quite suddenly which tends to undercut the credibility a little. Also, in spite of the author’s best efforst, the men’s stories still tend to dominate the first few chapters. Later the style settles down a bit and the strong characters of the wives begin to come forward. It was fascinating to see these personalities so long in the shadow of their husbands emerge. Jo Schirra, Marge Slaton and Annie Glenn cease to be just images standing by astronauts in photos. They become fully fledged people with real roles in the history that surrounded them as they tried to raise families while living in one of the most brightly lit fishbowls in modern times. If you are interested in the early space program then you must include this book on your list whatever its flaws. There is nothing else that covers the territory it does. And the fact that it took some five decades for such a book to arrive is really kind of sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This could have been a wonderful read. I can't believe such a poorly written book was actually published. The author changed subjects mid-paragraph and often left subjects or thoughts undeveloped. The wives were portrayed as one-dimensional and clearly weren't. What a disappointment. THere was a terrific story to be told and this book was superficial at best.
OhioMennonite More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed the book, and would recommend it. That said... she concentrated on the Mercury 7, and a few members of the following groups. I started to feel that it was rushed as I neared the end. I don't know if there wasn't time or information for the later groups. There were some stories I would have liked to know more about... but I suppose time, and privacy, were factors. We don't need to know all the details of their personal lives. I wondered what happened to some of the widowed women, and the children. And, the families after it all ended. Interestingly, the women are excluded from wikipedia.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awkward pacing, awkward transitions. The women were barely fleshed out characters without any true sense of personality.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite The Astronaut Wives Club is a fascinating, poignant and often heartrending window into the daily lives of the women whose husbands went to work outside of earth’s atmosphere and all too often did not come home. At the beginning of the Race to Space, the U.S. space program offered opportunity and a lifestyle unlike any other the country had known before or has known since. The astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions were an entirely new breed of American superhero; their wives were the unsung heroes praying for safety, rejoicing in success and mourning in times of loss. Through it all, they formed an unbreakable bond that remains both inspiring and unassailable. Lily Koppel writes with a sure and steady pen, tracking the myriad ups and downs and reversals of fortune that drove these admirable women to elation, despair, and sometimes even suicide. Her narrative is remarkably spare and yet achingly descriptive - even though we know much of the history, we catch our breath after every turn and wait to exhale in moments of agonizing suspense, feeling the emotional roller coaster right along with the wives as they struggle to endure danger, loneliness, anger, passion and inexpressible terror in the public eye and under the ever watchful and unforgiving onslaught of the press. The Astronaut Wives Club depicts a world the likes of which we will not see again, populated by extraordinary women of strength and beauty. Lily Koppel has rendered it all with a master’s touch. Orlagh Cassidy’s reading of The Astronaut Wives Club is as engaging and uncompromising as the extraordinary lives these intrepid women led. She never once gives away the ending of an episode, keeping her tone even and steady to create exquisite, understated tension in key moments.  Poker players work to create a poker face; Cassidy has a poker voice, which she uses here to great advantage.  The Astronaut Wives Club has a most welcome bonus feature - a PDF file of actual photos of the women and events of the story - which greatly assists the reader/listener in connecting with the narrative. In The Astronaut Wives Club, Lily Koppel has created an important, inspiring and indelible chronicle of an era and of a particular breed of extraordinary women we would do well always to honor and remember.
KyrieAlaisa More than 1 year ago
This is a very confusing and not entertaining read. There are many names and many facts, but it's a story. There's no emotion and very little dialogue. This is more of a coffee table book where you can pick it up, read a bit, and put it back down without feeling you're missing anything. Just not at all what I was expecting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book seemed to be written for a teen magazine, with its editorial "wink winks" and breathless qnd gossipy style. Given the important history these women were a part of, I expected a well written account of their lives during the moon exploration years. What I got was a poorly written and poorly edited collection of frequently unrelated anecdotes that were often trivial and uninteresting. The disorganization and numerous characters also made it difficult to keep up with who was who. These women deserved far better; it's shocking to me that its publishers let it go to print this way. They took what should have been a fascinating topic and turned it into a sophomoric mess.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since this book was based 40-50 years ago - you had to adjust your perceptions to the time frame. Because the book takes place in a time where things were more simpler and women did not have much power to make change - it shows the biases that were prevelant in their marriages. So it was interesting - not the best written book but interesting.
Iluvaroadtrip More than 1 year ago
The writing in this book is laughable. More like a high school paper than something written by a journalist. There are anecdotes apropos of nothing. This book is nothing if not amateurish. Too bad because I was really looking forward to some character development and really getting to know these women. Instead, they are all written as extensions of their husbands. I wonder if they were even interviewed.
emercat1 More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting book. I was very young during the early days of the space program, but I remember sitting at the black and white television when John Glenn orbited the Earth. I had no idea how much publicity these women had to endure. There was so much I didn't know about these first astronauts (especially Alan Shepherd). I felt like the book really captured the times....the role of the wives, the clothes, the visits to the White House, the prominence of Life Magazine, etc. Really enyoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. The story that had not been told about what the Astrowives went through from the Mercury to Apollo missions. These ladies were the unsung heroes of the space race. NASA--not so impressed with the way they treated these women and families & the way they fostered the Astronauts infidelity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't think we read the same book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nothing new here! What a disappointment. The author provided very little information that hasn't been published before. The book lacked a storyline, flow and any style.
4theLUVofbooks More than 1 year ago
This books is written in the 50's vernacular. There is constant repeating of tag lines- most notably "astrowives" (which the actual wives said in a recent Parade article was a term they never used). It is like the writer read all that was in print on the topic and then strung a story together. I was expecting an insightful book written from the wives perspective of this extraordinary period in American history. What I got was a poorly written essay with a few glossy pictures. Very disappointing.