Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel NF challenge #8

Title: The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story

Author: Lilly Koppel

Genre: Biography Memoir, Non Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing, June 2013
Rating: I liked it
Did I Finish: Of course, I did. 
Buy. Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, the pictures at the back are worth the buy option.
Why did I read this book?:  It was the monthly selection for my F2F book club. 

Review:  The Astronauts Wives Club tells the real story of the women who stood by their men, some of America's biggest heroes.

Beginning with the Mercury Seven astronauts, the wives were thrust from the bleak living conditions on various military bases to almost royalty status. They were given clothes, makeovers, new homes and then expected to accept the press, Life Magazine in particular, into their lives and homes , all the while smiling, never showing fear, anger or ordinary stress.

From Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage to Trudy Cooper, who had a secret to hide from NASA, the wives came together to support each other through their husbands absences, infidelities, and then their husbands epic flights into space.

This memoir is written with candor and comedy and  with compassion and realism. You will come away with a different perspective of NASA, the astronauts and  the world of 1957 ( when Russia trumped the US with the first launch of a man-made satellite) to 1972 ( when Apollo 17, the final flight to the moon and the first night launch).

The space program continued into 2010, but this book only covers the beginning of the program up through the Apollo program. I lived that time period, as a teenage and a young wife and mother. I had no idea the government was so active in their day to day lives, and I had no idea of the tenuous marriages that mostly did not survive.

The one issue I did have with the writing, was that it seemed not to tell a story, but to recount happening after happening. It all seemed a bit mundane and I know the space program and the surrounding events were anything but mundane. I mean all this happened during the Cuban Missile crisis, JFK's assassination, the Vietnam War, the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. our world was changing minute by minute.

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