Tara van Beurden's Reviews > The Pilot's Wife

The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
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May 07, 12

bookshelves: books-read-2012, own
Read from October 21, 2011 to January 01, 2012

I had no expectations going into reading this book, and to be perfectly honest, for the first 100 pages it didn’t do much for me. I bought it for $10 on a throw out table at a now-defunct book chain here in Brisbane, using a gift voucher an uncle had given me, that wouldn’t buy me much more than this without me having to spend actual money. It sat on my shelf for years and finally I decided I needed to pick it up in October 2011 because it had been gathering dust for far too long. It’s appropriate that I should start in October and then finally finish it on New Year’s Day 2012 (reading over half of it on a flight from Brisbane to Launceston, Tasmania), as in a way it reflected my life a little, and I found that this story came to mean much more to me than I’d have ever thought. The book tells the story of Kathryn Lyons, a pilot’s wife, who’s life is turned upside down when an early morning knock at the door makes her a widow. A terrible enough situation only made much worse when reports come in that the crash was as a result of her husband’s suicide. By the end of the story I ached for Kathryn, watching her work through and discover her husband’s deceptions, one after the other. It made me wonder about the grief and the sorrow felt by one upon losing someone loved and then hated, versus someone solely loved, versus someone solely hated. These thoughts came to me after losing my grandmother in November 2011, a woman I adored, who died while I was on the other side of the planet. I don’t grieve with other people, its not in my nature, and while the rest of my family grieved her loss, I remained stoic and almost detached, and its only now, some months later, as little things hit me, that I feel as if I am grieving, and it is something I do in private, unable to verbalise how I feel to others. This experience gave me something to compare to Kathryn, as did the idea of her husband’s deceptions, having come from a family with a grandfather (other side of the family!) who was an adulterer intent on keeping both a mistress and wife (he in fact fought my grandmother’s divorce proceedings in court (this was back in the 70s) in order to keep their marriage, while being unwilling to sacrifice his mistress). This sincerely reflected Kathryn’s situation, and I felt I could bring both these experiences to my reading of the story and in having that, I got to experience the story much more richly. It was a good read for me, needed during the time, and finishing it on New Year’s Day, closing the book as Kathryn rebuilt her life, seemed appropriate. An absent choice made several years ago come to touch me when I needed it most – the beauty of the written word…
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10/21/2011 page 6
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