The Astronaut Wives Club
by Lily Koppel
Summary: 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; JFK made it clear that platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was his favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived with a secret that needed to stay hidden from NASA. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, providing one another with support and friendship, coffee and cocktails.
As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragedy began to touch their lives-the wives continued to rally together, forming bonds that would withstand the test of time, and they have stayed friends for over half a century. The Astronaut Wives Club tells the story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.
Source: I purchased a paperback
I don’t read much nonfiction, but I grabbed this on a whim because I thought I could relate to the wives in some way being a military spouse myself and I thought it would give me some cool behind the scenes stories about that time period in America.
While The Astronaut Wives Club certainly gave me what I expected, I did not enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would and that was largely due to the way it was written. While it is chronological in that it began with the Mercury Seven and went on to include the later Apollo astronauts and closed with the reunion years later, the book jumped around quite a bit. It was written as if the author was attempting to construct an essay, had bits of information lying around, and found ways to squeeze some of the fun facts into random parts in order to include everything. There was no structure other than the chronological inclusion of the different groups of wives, from the first Mercury wives, to the Gemini, to the Apollo. Everything within those groups was scattered. I assume putting together a book like this is no easy feat, but surely there are better ways to weave the information together than the way it was done. It could have even read like a fiction novel and worked out quite well.
It appears that I’m not alone in my feelings, as the book has many negative or average reviews mostly due to the writing. It’s a real shame because the women in the book were interesting and their struggles were as well, but the writing style grated on my nerves and left me feeling less than interested. There was no organization, no voice, and it read like a book report peppered with random facts and instances. While I expected the wives to be held to the typical housewife persona, I was frustrated that the author made no attempt to make them into real people in a real story.
The worst part about reading this abysmal book is that it’s loaded with great information that a better author could have turned into a captivating story. That’s the real tragedy.