The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel


Ah summer reading…every summer I say I am going to read Anna Karenina, and every summer I am distracted by all of those delicious, lighter pleasure reads advertised to complement your visit to the beach, enhance your vacation, carry you through the dog days of summer…  The Astronaut Wives Club is just such a distraction.  Koppel’s book paints a portrait of the wives of America’s first space visitors.  Life is a cross between Mad Men and Leave It to Beaver, with fame, fortune, and paparazzi.  These overnight sensations seem to have a glamorous existence, but with their notoriety  come Cape Cookies, divorces, and the tragedies of failed missions.  Koppel gives a good sense of the challenges these women faced as they strived to support their husbands, keep their families together, and show their patriotism.  While their friendships are strongest at the beginning, they are lasting.

It is sometimes difficult to keep everyone straight, perhaps because their situations are all so similar, and there are so many wives.  I might have preferred the story told from fewer points of view, or as a fictionalized biography, but that didn’t stop me from reading it cover to cover.  My favorite astronaut and wife?  John and Annie Glenn.