They were the rock stars of the early Space Race. The men who would defy the Earth’s atmosphere and explore strange, new territory were akin to Christopher Columbus, Magellean and Marco Polo. But what about their wives? The women who knew the dangers involved with the infant NASA program, who smiled on the cover of Life Magazine but privately wondered if their men would make it back? What about their story?
The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel is a WONDERFUL answer to these questions in what I feel is a very enlightening book, though it may only be for a small niche of readers. My father was an armchair astronaut who spoke fluent NASA so I know some of the terms and names like the back of my hand. Obviously this is the kind of book that would appeal to someone like me who grew up feeling like I “knew” these people. I love the story behind the smiles: The women whose marriages were in trouble but had to “happy, thrilled and proud” for the benefit of the country. I appreciate the “perks” that they enjoyed as part of their place in history and you feel the pain as some of these women bear witness to the most shocking and scary moments of the space program and the human race. On top of it all, there is also a glimpse into the bygone ’50s-’60s in which these women represented the June Cleaver stereotype. If you love “history” that doesn’t read like “history,” this is a great book for you!