The Astronaut Wives Club

  • by Lily Koppel
  • Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy
  • 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.
Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK's favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other's children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.
As their celebrity rose - and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives - they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. The Astronaut Wives Club tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Sea of Tranquility Ocean of Storms

I am a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead" (2013). I thought Lily Koppel's "The Astronaut Wives Club" (2013) would be the antithesis of "Lean In", but I was intrigued by a great review on NPR's Morning Edition. One of my earliest memories is of the January 27, 1967 fire that killed three astronauts on the launch pad, and I suddenly wondered how those wives had handled that.

Curious, and bolstered by Audible's no questions asked return policy in case I didn't like the AWC (as the members of "The Astronaut Wives Club" refer to the group) I decided to listen.

The AWC is a fascinating study of a place (Texas) and time (late 1950's and the 1960's) where NASA created what appeared to be the perfect community to nurture astronauts into space and eventually to the moon. The wives, followed by Life magazine and hoards of hungry press, presented a convincing facade of suburban living , cooking streak-and-eggs breakfasts, wearing exquisite dresses, with carefully coifed hair. The wives were expected to be rocks of support, not letting their own families or the rest of the world know how frightening what their husbands were doing was.

The facade was just that - a mask, and the members of the AWC joined together to support each other and mortar the cracks that inevitably formed. While their husbands competed on making history in space (and sometimes on the ground with the number of 'Cape Cookies' they could bag), the AWC supported each other with ham loaf, tuna casseroles, jello molds, and chats over plenty of coffee and cigarettes.

Most of the AWC didn't work outside the home, but most middle and upper class women didn't at the time. Being an astronaut's wife was like being an unwilling star of an unrelenting reality show.

I had initially held the members of the AWC in disdain because they seemed to derive their identities from their husbands, but like other women of that era, they did not have the options we do half a century later.

The AWC was and is a space pioneer "Lean In" group.

The narration was a bit off - not everyone could have had a Texas accent - but the pace was good.

Audible, you're safe. I won't be returning this one.

[if you found this review helpful please let me know by pressing the helpful button. Thanks!]
Read full review

- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

So-So Story, Painful Performance

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Far less individual perspective than I expected. Several flat out errors of fact which made me very suspicious of the material I was less familiar with. Valentina Tereshkova was not pregnant at the time of her flight. Don Eisle was not fired from NASA. Items such as these made me question the research that went into this book.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance was truly painful. I cringed each time the reader mispronounced Gus Grissom's name. It is NOT pronounced GriSHam. Gus gave his life in the service of his country. At least give him the respect of pronouncing his name correctly.

The male accents were similarly painful to listen to. If the reader had simply used her own voice for all the characters it would have been far less annoying than making them all sound like characters out of Tobacco Road.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Great ideal for a book but failed to live up to its promise. The wives certainly had a unique perspective but this book provides very little new information.

Read full review

- Steve

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-11-2013
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio