Wednesday, January 21, 2015

audiobook review: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

narrated by Orlagh Cassidy

The basics: The Astronaut Wives Club offers extraordinary access into the actions, thoughts and feelings of the wives of the Mercury Seven, the Gemini missions, and the Apollo missions. It's a look at what life was really like for these women. Through these women, Koppel also tells the story of the space program and the world at that time.

My thoughts: I downloaded this audiobook from the library on a whim, and it ended up being a fabulous listening experience. I am definitely young enough that I took space travel for granted. The Astronaut Wives Club took me back to the time when space travel was beginning. I was riveted as the wives of the Mercury Seven transitioned from military wives with humble lives into media celebrities.

For women who were so frequently portrayed in the media at the time, The Astronaut Wives Club offers a behind-the-scenes look into what it was really like, from the every day moments to how they supported one another in times of tragedy. Obviously, many things have changed since the Mercury flights, and Koppel perhaps hits the sweet spot in history. It's a time when these women are able to speak more freely, yet they are still around to speak for themselves.

More time is spent with the "original" Mercury wives, but their tales are perhaps even more interesting. As space travel continued, the number of wives increased. While I thoroughly enjoyed the stories of the wives of the Gemini and Apollo missions, I didn't find myself as moved and shocked by their circumstances.

Audio thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed Orlagh Cassidy's narration. She read this book as though she were talking, and often gossiping, with a friend. As I listened, I felt as though we were having a series of "did you hear about so-and-so?" conversations, and I quite enjoyed it.

The verdict: The Astronaut Wives Club was a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the wives of the first astronauts from the United States. It straddles the ordinary and the extraordinary beautifully, and I remain enchanted with these women, who are interesting in their own rights, but against the backdrop of the space race, their lives become a compelling chapter in American history. Perhaps if I knew more about this time, I would not have been as enchanted with these women, but I certainly was.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 7 hours 46 minutes (320 pages)
Publication date: June 11, 2003
Source: library

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Astronaut Wives Club from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Lily Koppel's website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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  1. I read this book last year and enjoyed it a lot too. Maybe I'll get it on audio and do re-read sometime. I've been fascinated with the astronaut wives since watching the movie The Right Stuff years ago. To me, this was an extension of that experience.

  2. So glad you enjoyed this one! I read it a little while after it came out, and I sucked it down in nearly one sitting. Such a fascinating time period and lifestyle for these women.

  3. Oh, you just sold me on the audio! I have been flittering around this one for a while but could never convince myself to get it at the library or find myself an inexpensive copy somewhere. I have Audible credits. Onto the wish list it goes!

  4. An interesting history of a unique time in the US told from an utterly unique perspective.


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