Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: 'The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story' by Lily Koppel

✰✰✰ When the Mercury 7 astronauts were introduced back in 1959, there was a surprising amount of interest in their wives. These ordinary women suddenly found themselves in the center of attention. The wives of the Mercury 7 astronauts were traditionalists in every sense. Each woman was expected to be calm and composed. The Astrowives, as they became known, were judged on their clothes, hair, complexion, parenting skills, charm, and patriotism.

During this era, women were expected to excel in housekeeping, raising children, and cooking. Many had dropped out of college early to get married. However, they were not to be underestimated. Each Astrowife was expected to show "the right stuff" just like her astronaut husband. This is their story. A story about female friendships, American identity, and history.

The Bottom Line: This quick read will appeal to readers of American history and women's issues. Fans of television series like Mad Men may also be interested. The chapters were short, and the writing style was easy to read. The beginning of the book includes a list of wives arranged chronologically by mission, making it easy to keep track of who's who.

Book Club Notes: Surprisingly the attendance for this quarter was much lower than previous discussions. Several members simply were not interested in the topic. Nevertheless, those of us who attended had a great discussion. Our conversation focused on the friendships of the women and the courage it took for them to support their husbands while finding their own identities. One thing we all agreed upon was that we disliked the choppy, journalistic writing style. Ratings ranged from a low of 2 stars to a high of 4 stars, but most of us gave the book a rating of 3 stars. In short, this is an average book about a fascinating topic.

The paperback edition includes a Reading Group Guide in the back of the book. However, the same questions are also available by visiting The Astronaut Wives Club website. More discussion questions are available at LitLovers.

Details: The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel. Trade paperback published by Grand Central Publishing in 2014. 288 p. ISBN: 978-1-4555-0324-7

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