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God is an Astronaut

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Jess Frobisher is a botany professor at the local university. Her husband, Liam, works for a space tourism company called Spaceco, which has just become front-page news: one of their shuttles exploded shortly after liftoff, killing everyone on board. The press descends. With the future of the company in doubt, a husband-and-wife filmmaking team approaches Liam about making a Spaceco documentary. Seeing this as an opportunity to salvage the company�s reputation, Liam agrees to cooperate, allowing them access to his homelife and his family. And Jess soon becomes a focus of their film, even as�or perhaps because�she is excluded from her husband�s darkest secrets.

God Is an Astronaut unfolds, with sure pacing, mounting anxiety, and glimmering writing, through a series of e-mails from Jess to her colleague Arthur, away on sabbatical. He is a safe correspondent, removed from the maelstrom, but their relationship is freighted by some secrets of its own�the details slowly revealing themselves in this debut of masterful storytelling.

305 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 10, 2014

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About the author

Alyson Foster

3 books23 followers
Alyson Foster was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and grew up in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She studied Creative Writing at the University of Michigan and received her M.F.A. from George Mason University, where she was a Completion Fellow. Foster lives in the D.C. area with her husband and her son.

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5 stars
54 (12%)
4 stars
134 (31%)
3 stars
151 (35%)
2 stars
67 (15%)
1 star
20 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 82 reviews
Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,249 reviews643 followers
May 2, 2015

I really enjoyed this slightly different, offbeat book. The story is told entirely in emails from botany professor, Jess Frobisher to her recent ex-lover and fellow colleague Arthur. Arthur has taken himself off on sabbatical to the wilds of Canada to study the effects of climate change on pine trees. Although we never see his return emails we are able to intuit some of his responses from Jess's replies and get a sense of his character and feelings. There is a lot of humour in their correspondence and Jess is clearly still in love with Arthur and misses him terribly. However, she is married with two great kids, Jack and Corinne and struggles to keep her grief at bay so they can lead a normal family life. Not that their life is ever normal with her husband Liam head of a private space travel business and away for weeks on end whenever there is a rocket launch.

At the outset of the book, we discover that there has been a major accident involving one of Liam's shuttles. In damage control mode Liam agrees to have a film maker make a documentary on one of his launches, which means having his family life filmed as well. Jess, in the middle of a project to build a greenhouse onto the back of their house which she plans to fill with orchids and other exotic plants, does not welcome the invasion of a film crew into the middle of her family and soon discovers that more is expected of her than just being filmed at home. Both Jess and Liam have their secrets which start to unravel as the film making gets underway. Definitely a fun read about love and relationships and reaching for the stars.

Profile Image for Elaine.
604 reviews235 followers
June 17, 2014
Botanist Jess Frobisher certainly has her hands full, juggling her career, children, marriage to space tourism boss Liam, as well as taking on singlehandedly the construction of her own 20’ x 30’ greenhouse. When we join the story, her life has just been turned upside down by a disaster which struck Liam’s company. Their home is being bombarded by journalists and documentary film makers, not to mention Liam’s colleagues taking over the house as “Disaster HQ” and Jess herself is going to have to publicly make a show of support for her husband and his business. Jess is a very unusual character, whilst her husband’s eyes are firmly set on the heavens above she is more interested in digging into the soil and studying what grows on earth. She has never, until now, been one to seek the limelight, and has always played down any of Liam’s achievements. The question is, just how far she will have to go now to prove her faith in him and how many changes will she eventually have to make in her life.

The story is told entirely by emails that Jess writes to her former colleague Arthur. I was a little dubious when I realised this, but it works and they actually tell the story very well indeed. They are very conversational, the story is related in a very chatty style that someone would definitely use when corresponding with someone they were close to. We never actually see Arthur’s replies and this means that we have to fill in quite a lot of blanks ourselves to get a full picture of the story as not everything is detailed in the book. We also never see the story from her husband’s perspective, so he is only ever portrayed as Jess wants Arthur to see him.

It is a very unusual, different, quirky read that is often witty and funny in a very gentle way.

I won the book in a Goodreads Giveaway competition.
Profile Image for Emily.
194 reviews7 followers
July 6, 2014
I had to physically force myself to finish this book. I hated the writing style, the continuous spelling errors infuriated me, and I found the story line uneventful.

A book formed of a series of e-mails between Jess and a colleague on sabbatical. Jessica Frobisher is a botany professor at a university in Michigan. Her husband, Liam, works for a space tourism company called Spaceco, which has begun sending members of the public into space. When disaster strikes, and a mission goes badly wrong, resulting in the members of crew dying, including a pregnant lady. With the media swarming her house, reports on the news, and a person documenting their lives for a film, Jess attempts to keep "down to earth" by building a greenhouse in her garden. But nothing she does can prevent her life spiralling out of control.

The entire book is composed of e-mails from Jess to her colleague, Arthur. However, we only get Jess's side of the emails, leaving us to guess what Arthur said based on her responses and the e-mail titles. I personally disliked this style, although I did get used to it as it went through. We got to know Jess well, through her brutal honesty. However, I still found her quite a flat character. She spoke a lot about mundane things, and constantly went on about her gardening. This made the story very slow, and I found it very dull. The main thing I disliked about the e-mails were the constant spelling errors. Now I know that we all make error when typing e-mails, and these add to the authenticity of it, but for me, when I read a book, I don't want to keep having to re-read a sentence, guessing words to try and make it make sense.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend this book.

With thanks to Bloomsbury on Netgalley for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,800 reviews296 followers
August 13, 2015
this book is one of those where you would either hate it or love it. the format of using emails felt at first strange but as the story/plot unfolds you get used to the one person dialogue as the person talks about her colleagues, family and life in general and the gradual breakdown of her marriage after the shuttle disaster which her husband owns.
one drawback however is the one person dialogue in some parts of the book as you have to read between the lines of Arthur replies and the implied affair.
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,260 reviews297 followers
August 10, 2016
First-person literary narrative should be the forte of an accomplished writer, and here we see exactly such. Not only first-person singular,but epistolary; one that would expect skewed perspectives,but our author surmounts this and gives us both three-dimensional characters and a solid understanding of the background, both present and past.
Profile Image for Lobstergirl.
1,750 reviews1,267 followers
Shelved as 'aborted'
August 19, 2023

In June 2023, a submersible named Titan belonging to an ocean tourism company imploded on a dive to the Titanic wreckage, killing its captain and four passengers, who had each paid $250,000 for the trip.

In this 2014 novel, a shuttle named Titan belonging to a space tourism company explodes a few minutes after liftoff, killing its two crew and four passengers, who had each paid $250,000 for the trip. (One of them is a pregnant woman.)

The novel is narrated from the first person perspective of the botany professor-wife of an engineer with the space tourism company. But the entire narration is a very chatty one-sided email exchange with one of her university colleagues. I couldn't make it past p. 16.
Profile Image for Toni.
192 reviews4 followers
September 28, 2014
I thought the writing in God Is an Astronaut was excellent. I was drawn into the author's clever use of the language and her ability to reconstruct conversation in a believable way. The voice of the character, Jess, rang true and clear in her emails. The emails seemed honest, albeit about her confusions, while she seemed to be sleep walking through her life and relationships with the people who were not at the other end of her emails. Most of her real time conversations seemed like 'blurts' without connection and I didn't feel anything changed at the end. Arthur, Jess' lover seemed more muse than a beloved person. After I finished the book I wondered if Jess could ever really get into living an off-line life, with or without Arthur.

I liked the background of space travel, botany and environmental concerns in the book. I liked the idea of the greenhouse but then at the end it seemed unimportant. I was depressed about the subject—not space travel, but the marriage that never seemed to have an upside and then just unravelled. Still I expect good things from this author. She nailed the voice of this remote woman, Jess, and drew me into her story until the end.
Profile Image for Lolly K Dandeneau.
1,866 reviews238 followers
March 9, 2014
This novel is written in the form of emails, which I have a fierce dislike of. But it must be said that I never dismiss any story because of the style it's written in. Foster's novel surprised me as the emails flowed naturally and I enjoyed the writing. Jess's recipient of the emails is her co-worker, Arthur (who is currently on a sabbatical). The reader isn't privy to Arthur's replies, and curiosity is stimulated. There are secrets that weigh the emails and much of our story hides here. Jess's husband Liam owns Spaceco, a space travel tourism company. A shuttle explodes at launch, with no survivors. To salvage his company's image, Liam agrees to a husband and wife documentary team. Under a microscope from the team, and the scrutiny of the press more is bound to blow than a shuttle. Liam has secrets of his own, and while this novel is a dark one, it manages to be a love story as well. It is a unique approach to love. Pleasurable read and hard to review without giving anything away...
544 reviews12 followers
March 8, 2014
This is an unusual novel in that it's written solely in emails from botany professor Jess to her erstwhile colleague and lover Arthur. Jess's husband Liam works for a space tourism company, Spaceco, and when one of their rockets blows up, killing everyone on board, Jess and her family find themselves under siege from the press, and then from a French documentary filmmaker, Theo. Foster only includes Jess's emails, and not Arthur's replies, drawing you closer into the action of the story. It's an enjoyable, bittersweet love story with added space travel!
Profile Image for Emmanuel.
115 reviews9 followers
September 22, 2019
The style of this book is awful. It's all from one person's point of view, and it's ALL told via her emails, and in those emails is nothing interesting at all. I struggled with this for a day before flipping to the back and realising it doesn't ever get better.
Profile Image for Pgchuis.
2,013 reviews21 followers
October 18, 2014
This book consists entirely of emails, almost exclusively sent by Jessica, a botany professor, to her colleague, Arthur, who is on sabbatical doing research in Canada. Jessica (who has recently had an affair with Arthur) is married to Liam. Liam works for Spaceco, which sends rich people into space for an orbit of the earth. At the beginning of the book one of Spaceco's rockets has exploded on take off, killing the six people on board. We hear of what Jessica does during the aftermath of the disaster (avoid the media, ask Liam what went wrong etc) by way of her emails. Although we can intuit pieces of what Arthur must have replied, we never see any of his responses. Eventually, as part of the damage control, Jessica agrees to have a documentary film made leading up to the next Spaceco launch and (along with the film makers) agrees to be one of the passengers.

Once I had got used to it, I quite liked the email format and there were moments of humour, particularly around Jessica's children or her colleagues at the university. On the other hand, I found some of the motivations confusing: I had assumed that Jessica was working her way towards leaving Liam for Arthur, but then she agreed to go on the next space flight and Arthur (understandably as the novel is framed) took that as a rejection. Jessica had previously stated that she had no interest in going into space, but she did not seem to be trying to repair her relationship with Liam and indeed apparently deliberately sabotages it at the end. It is also revealed that her relationship with Arthur ended the first time because she enthused to him about the excitement of a previous trip taken by Liam. However, Arthur had months previously to that already committed to going to Canada without telling her and his attitude to the relationship is not clear to me.

I found it annoying that Jessica was so clueless and head in the sand about the space disaster - she is a professor and in a science discipline. Why are women so often portrayed as unable to asses and react to situations practically and dispassionately?
Profile Image for Richard.
649 reviews12 followers
October 19, 2014
I didn't quite finish this book, I only read the first 15-20 pages of it. Quite weird in it's structure. It is written with only one protagonist speaking. All she is doing is emailing a colleague and perhaps one time lover ? Like I mentioned, I really don't know too much about it, other than I didn't like it from the get go. It is written like an email and it has the protagonist ( Jessica Frobisher ) just rattling on and on to her colleague (Arthur Danielson) about various topics and things. Arthur Danielson doesn't email or respond to her and the whole book has her talking, talking and talking via email messages. I do know that woman, overall can talk a man's ear to death, but this novel is ridiculous. I would like to have other characters involved, instead of one woman (Jessica Frobisher) just babbling on and on and most of what I read is just pure nonsense. An example of the "style" in which this was written include :

From: Jessica Frobisher
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 3:18pm
Subject: Re: holy shit

blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah

The entire novel is written as a email and only one person corresponding and talking i.e. - Jessica Frobisher !

I'm not going to waste my time with this drivel with ONE woman talking all the time and most of the email conversation again is just garbage and trivial sh*t that bored women and/or men would do. Their are so many books to read and I just don't want to waste my time reading one character babbling thru-out the novel !
1,547 reviews49 followers
September 25, 2014
This was a really enjoyable, super-readable romp. It was just the book I needed, after coming up a run of books recently that never really captured by interest.

The whole novel is composed of one side of an email correspondence, as botanist Jess writes to her academic colleague and lover Arthur about the tragedy that strikes her husband's company, called SpaceCo which seems like a not-even-veiled version of SpaceX. And though the format doesn't sound promising, Jess' voice is funny and rich and varied enough to keep me interested, and the story took some pretty good turns that weren't telegraphed but which felt right once you saw them happen.

It wasn't perfect; there are places where the characters acted because they needed to instead of based in any clear motivation, like the way Jess and hubby Liam's dispute escalates to crisis rather suddenly. Likewise, the character of the NYT reporter seems kind of like a paper tiger, and some elements of the climax seemed at once arbitrary and unnecessessary-- like, something needed to happen, so something did, but it didn't seem to really fit the design.

But really, those quibbles did very little to diminish the joy I felt on nearly every page I read.
Profile Image for Karla.
603 reviews7 followers
October 31, 2014
Who would think that a book that included a space disaster, space travel and an extramarital affair could be so boring?
This is written entirely as a one sided email conversation - really detracted from the story.
Profile Image for Eye of Sauron.
388 reviews36 followers
March 16, 2018
From: The Eye of Sauron
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2016 11:02 pm
To: Shagrat
Cc: Gorbag
Subject: Re: put a ring on it


So I'll simply wait here and bide my time. There is no possible way this can go wrong; the conveniently existent volcano of unmaking is still far away from the pitiful creatures, and I will destroy them as easily as I would crush your pathetic faces.

Meanwhile, do me a huge favor and GET BACK TO WORK. I'm not paying you to sit around and grumble while I hunt down and kill all the good and light in the world myself. And my "paying you" I mean "allowing you to swear your undying loyalty to me without any hope of reward or survival."

You're welcome.


Your Lord,
Profile Image for Margaret Hoff.
558 reviews1 follower
September 29, 2019
3.5 - I read this e-book sporadically but enjoyed it. The novel is written strictly in emails from Jess to Arthur; professor colleagues and former lovers. Their relationship occurred while she was married and the emotional tie is still strong although the affair has ended. The entire book leads up to Jess being a passenger in a privately funded space program. Pretty fascinating! It was actually a bit amazing how vividly the story unfolded solely on the basis of one-way emails. While not profound; entertaining.
Profile Image for Annalise.
164 reviews4 followers
December 16, 2019
I wanted to like this book, but it never truly grabbed me. There were a few social observations about work, and life, and family dynamics which I enjoyed, but the feeling seemed to be fleeting. Mostly, I was overcome by the strong urge to get the whole thing over with. I found the format of the book - consistently seeing one-side of a two-way email conversation - rather annoying and disjointed, and had difficulty engaging with the relationships as some of them seemed wooden, underdeveloped, or two-dimensional somehow.
January 19, 2018
This book was so unique and striking; a truly inventive work of fiction. What struck me most was how relatable Jess was, and at the same time how much the reader became Arthur throughout their dialogue. By mixing the mundane and the cosmic, the author manages to impart some heady concepts and themes without ever seeming to lose the self deprecating, pragmatism which makes it so accessible and resonant.
Profile Image for Zarin Bari.
47 reviews
November 5, 2017
I haven't read to many first person narratives in the form of email communication but I guess there's a first time for everything. It took me a while to get past the format but eventually started to enjoy the story line.
414 reviews
May 26, 2018
Interesting story told from an interesting format - emails. Jessica's husband's company, Spaceco, takes civilians on an orbit around the world. There's a tragic explosion and Jessica is telling her friend/colleague all about it via email.
Profile Image for Alexson.
189 reviews
January 8, 2019
Started off intriguing but quickly became a boring gimmick. I couldn’t get over the idea of someone writing novel-like to someone as an email. Felt super inauthentic and made me cringe. Not to mention the main character is a bit annoying. It’s not badly written. I’ll give it that...just...boring.
890 reviews11 followers
December 13, 2017
It took me about 100 pgs to get into this slowly paced book, but then Foster had me. This book is different, quirky and enjoyable
Profile Image for Cynthia.
134 reviews
January 27, 2019
Loved this book! So well done and really interesting.

Different and so emotional for me. I really like how the author was able to weave this story together.
265 reviews
February 5, 2019
I am not sure how they chose the title? Other than it was about going to space.
Unique way of telling a story through one person’s eyes by writing letters to a friend.
Profile Image for Katja.
58 reviews
February 15, 2021
Honestly I found the book really slow and a bit boring. The style of one sided emails was interesting and fresh, but the plot moved slowly and the ending didn’t really feel satisfying.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sarah Francis.
82 reviews
August 29, 2021
Unique format (only one side of an email correspondence). It slowly doles out the details in a frustratingly compelling manner.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 82 reviews

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