I have always been fascinated by the heavens. Ancient mythology (Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse – yes, please), astronomy, star-gazing, the space race…all of it. I can’t get enough. I’ve watched all the movies, I’ve read all the non-fic, and to an extent, some of the better fiction, too.
So of course when I heard about Koppel’s The Astronauts’ Wives Club I had to pick it up. It is a lovely recap of the man’s race into space and then to the moon, from the first Mercury missions (sub-orbital and orbital missions), to Gemini (two-man crews), to the Apollo missions. But here’s the thing – the entire story, as you might have guessed, is told from through the experiences of the wives.
I couldn’t have done it – been a 1950s housewife. I couldn’t have stood by my man, no matter what, presented the perfect mask to the world, maintained the perfect home, and then allowed my man to pick up the Cape Cookies (as the groupies at Cape Canaveral were called) every time my back was turned. Nope, I’d be more likely to steal my husband’s rocket and fly myself to the moon. You know – after I got over my fear of heights, speed, fire, and small, enclosed spaces. YA YA!
I think that’s part of what made this book so fascinating to me. I didn’t learn much new; there weren’t any big revelations or startling journalistic maneuvers, but Koppel held me firmly in her grasp for as long as she kept talking. I couldn’t look away from these glamorous lives of the men exploring my heavens and the woman leading such puzzling lives. I enjoyed that Koppel didn’t try to force any one angle. I spent much of the book trying to figure out whether anyone was truly happy and never could quite make up my mind – if that’s not fidelity to the true complexity of marriage, work, politics, identity, and friendships, I don’t know what is.
A good, solid read, worthy of an entire afternoon of your time. 4 of 5 stars.