The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this story about the Astronaut wives, though it did end up making me sad. These women were amazing. They were so focused and dedicated to supporting their husbands’ careers. Everything they did was with consideration to how it would affect their husbands. From the early years as the wives of military test pilots to the glory of the Apollo moon landing, these woman did everything in their power to help their men succeed.
Unfortunately, their service and devotion was not reciprocated. These heroes of American history lived the lives of rock stars, not family men. They blatantly kept “Cape Cookies” on the side, abandoned their families, and took all of the sacrifices of their wives completely for granted. Even knowing that NASA valued strong families, and that a healthy marriage was a strong indicator of astronaut success, it was left almost entirely up to the wives to keep up the façade. They had to pretend that they didn't know what their husbands were up to in Cape Canaveral. They had to be stoic and supportive to the bitter end.
With such a lifestyle, is it any wonder that the wives only had each other to commiserate with? Though there was a lot of competition between the couples for prime space missions, the wives became a close knit community unto their own. I was happy to hear that they still had regular get-togethers even today.
“The Astronaut Wives Club” is a wonderful overview of these true American heroines. Their story has largely gone unsung, but Lily Koppel has done a good job of introducing us to most of them. There were a lot of wives by the end of the Apollo missions, and it was sometimes difficult to keep them all straight in my mind. I think that I would like to read more in-depth memoirs on some of the women introduced in this book. They just had such interesting personalities and lived through such unique circumstances, it is hard to believe that this is the first book ever written about them.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in women’s history, the space race, or American history. It was a fascinating read that I think everyone would enjoy.
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