Monday, 22 July 2013

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

review by Maryom

When the names of America's first seven astronauts were announced, their wives were overwhelmed by the amount of press and public interest they too encountered. From being the unremarkable wives of servicemen they became sought-after celebrities, appearing on the cover of Life magazine and followed everywhere by the press.
As long-time servicemen's wives, much of their lives continued as usual -  while the husband was out flying dangerous missions, the wife would stay home, keep house and raise the kids - but now they were forced to be on constant show for the media. A clean-cut, all-American image was expected of both astronauts and their wives - anything that didn't support this was quickly hidden away. While their husbands whizzed round in space, the wives had  to maintain a calm cool exterior and never express any doubts or fears - to their husbands or the press.
To combat their isolation they formed a mutual support group - at first a loosely organised affair but growing, as the numbers of astronauts' wives did, into a more formalised thing. This book takes the reader into their world; one of fixed smiles for the press, hiding the terror they felt; the marital secrets that didn't live up to the expected image; and the constant attention from the press. The emphasis is rather on the earliest group, the wives of the seven Mercury astronauts - Betty Grissom, Annie Glenn, Jo Schirra, Rene Carpenter, Trudy Cooper, Marge Slayton and Louise Shepard - who faced the first barrage of publicity and were least prepared for it. When more wives joined the club with the Gemini, Apollo and later programs, they at least had someone who'd been there before and knew the ropes.
For anyone, like me, who finds the facts and figures behind the Space Program daunting, this book brings the people behind it to life.

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher -
Genre -non-fiction, biography,

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