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Fortune's Rocks #3

The Pilot's Wife

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A pilot's wife is taught to be prepared for the late-night knock at the door. But when Kathryn Lyons receives word that a plane flown by her husband, Jack, has exploded near the coast of Ireland, she confronts the unfathomable-one startling revelation at a time. Soon drawn into a maelstrom of publicity fueled by rumors that Jack led a secret life, Kathryn sets out to learn who her husband really was, whatever that knowledge might cost. Her search propels this taut, impassioned novel as it movingly explores the question, How well can we ever really know another person?

304 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1998

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About the author

Anita Shreve

102 books4,180 followers
Anita Shreve was an American writer, chiefly known for her novels. Shreve's novels have sold millions of copies worldwide. She attended Tufts University and began writing while working as a high school teacher. One of her first published stories, Past the Island, Drifting, (published in 1975) was awarded an O. Henry Prize in 1976. Among other jobs, Shreve spent three years working as a journalist in Kenya. In 1999, while she was teaching Creative Writing at Amherst College, Oprah Winfrey selected The Pilot's Wife for her book club. Her novels The Weight of Water and Resistance became a films of the same name. CBS released The Pilot's Wifeas a movie of the week.

She died on March 29, 2018, at her home at Newfields, New Hampshire, from cancer; she was 71.

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5 stars
16,453 (17%)
4 stars
34,450 (35%)
3 stars
33,373 (34%)
2 stars
9,532 (9%)
1 star
2,343 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,815 reviews
Profile Image for Julie .
4,028 reviews58.9k followers
May 6, 2018
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve is a 1999 Bay Back Books publication.

I read this book a long time ago, before I become a member of Goodreads and well before I started writing book reviews.
But, when I heard of Anita Shreve’s passing, this book came back to the forefront of my mind, as I recalled bits and pieces of it quite vividly.
Although I have so many books to review, with deadlines, no less, I couldn’t resist giving this book a second look.
This novel, when it was first released, benefited greatly from the press that resulted from Oprah Winfrey’s having selected it for her book club. However, initially, I wasn’t sure if it was my kind of book and didn’t immediately rush out and buy a copy at the peak of its popularity. But, eventually, my curiosity got the best of me. I never could have imagined the impact this book would have on me, or the way it would guide my reading habits from that time forward.

Briefly, for those who may not have read the book or just a quick refresher for those who have- Kathryn’s husband, Jack, is a pilot, and together they have a teenage daughter. Life is pretty good, and Kathryn has learned to accept the ebbs and flows within her marriage. But, when she gets the news a plane Jack was piloting exploded in midair, everything she thought she knew about her daughter, her husband and even herself is thrown into question. Was it a mechanical malfunction, or pilot error- or something far more sinister?

Jack’s occupation explains his absences from home, but it is an adjustment his family has had to learn to live with. His job also comes in handy when it comes to sustaining secrets and hiding things from his wife and daughter. Many may question how naïve Kathryn was, but I didn’t feel as though she buried her head in the sand. Of course, as the story unfolds, episodes from the past all click into place and Kathryn realizes she was naïve, perhaps complacent, was too trusting, too confident in her life, but didn’t she have the right to be? Or should she have remained in a state of hyper awareness at all times? Is is wrong to enjoy contentment?

Even now, with the passage of time, the emotions the book stirred in me the first time around, resurfaced once again, as strong as before, maybe even more so, even knowing everything that was going to happen in advance. The story still held my rapt attention and sucked me into Kathryn’s mind -numbing vortex as she stumbles across one shocking betrayal after another.
The suspense is still nearly unbearable at times, the characterizations firm, if not always likeable, and the tantalizing and teasing pacing, is genius.

The story does seem dated a little, at this point, and as a more jaded reader, I may have figured things out a lot quicker if I’d been reading it for the first time, but it is still a powerful heart wrenching novel of suspense and riveting family drama. I have read several other books written by Shreve over the years, but so far, although very well written, they didn’t quite manage to have the same effect on me as this one did.

4.5 stars rounded up
Profile Image for Debbie Petersen Wolven.
255 reviews102 followers
July 16, 2008
Another bomb from Shreve. Her husband had a secret life...blah blah blah. She can't confront her grief and betrayal over finding this out, because he is dead. Then the usual fairy-tale ending for books of this genre...while Kathryn is grief-stricken, unkempt and unshowered and at her blubbery worst, a gorgeous guy is right there to fall madly in love with her! Yes, this happens *all* the time!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,164 reviews511 followers
April 25, 2017
A pilot's wife is taught to be prepared for the late-night knock at the door. But when Kathryn Lyons receives word that a plane flown by her husband, Jack, has exploded near the coast of Ireland, she confronts the unfathomable-one startling revelation at a time. Soon drawn into a maelstrom of publicity fueled by rumors that Jack led a secret life, Kathryn sets out to learn who her husband really was, whatever that knowledge might cost. Her search propels this taut, impassioned novel as it movingly explores the question, How well can we ever really know another person?

I watched the movie many years ago and still remember it. The movie was more action-driven in a way, and less emotionally orientated than the book, although the ambiance of the book was perfectly captured. Kathryn Lyons mourned the idyllic life she has lost after learning about her husband's deceit. In the end she did not mourn her husband Jack, but the good life he had cheated them out of. They had a daughter together, who had to learn the truth about her father in the end and make peace with his good memories, as well as the legacy he left behind. Being a teenager, Maddy had to navigate the start of an adult life with a mother gone to Ireland, searching for Jack's alleged connection to the IRA and the smuggling of explosives between Boston and Ireland. She discovered much more than that.

I was in a mood for a placid, gentle read after a few high-voltage murder mysteries and literature. This was the perfect choice. Although the author's books lean heavily on the emotional turbulence it ignites in the reader, the stories are always a moral showground with many questions left for the readers to find answers to. The longer one lingers on the issues, the more intricate the answers become. Jack was a good man. Loving. Hardworking. He could have been anyone of us. But then he was not. Nothing in life is cut and paste or black or white. Between Kathryn's and Jack's version of the events, the facts had to be found, but it was not as easy as it sounded and Jack was dead ...

The book is beautiful. It is enhanced by the movie.

I've been wanting to read this book for so long. I'm so happy it finally happened. It was an Anita Shreve experience and I loved it.

Profile Image for Laura.
132 reviews565 followers
August 1, 2008
This is one of those books you pick up in Costco when the line is really long and you need something to kill time, but then it accidentally gets rung up so you go ahead and read it. The back cover described it as “oddly gripping”, and the premise looked intriguing enough for me to actually buy the book on purpose: a wife delves into what really caused her husband’s plane to crash, only to find out...he was leading a double life!! In England!!! How could a book about loss, betrayal, and really big secrets fail to entertain? Unfortunately, none of the characters was even marginally appealing, and overall the story was just bleak and boring. There was even a contrived "love" story that, weirdly, made the story even grimmer.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Gemma.
68 reviews20 followers
June 2, 2017
I’m afraid I didn’t feel any love for this. It dragged to begin with and virtually nothing happened for the first hundred pages. That wouldn’t have bothered me had the writing been inspired or the characters compelling. Unfortunately, for me, neither was the case. Katheryn, the wife who’s told her husband, the pilot, has died in an air crash, didn’t provide any of those exciting identification moments when you see something of yourself or a good friend eloquently arrested and made lucid. The story does eventually become more engaging but it’s always slow with lots of off-the-point dialogue and description, and I felt the author missed lots of opportunities to delve more deeply and more interestingly into the theme of how well do we know the person we are married to. Katheryn always seemed more of a device than a living character. I didn’t get any exciting insights into married life or grief. For me it was neither literary nor commercial fiction but struggled half way between the two. I’m a bit mystified why this novel is so popular.
Profile Image for Janet.
399 reviews29 followers
December 23, 2007
This could be a quick read but is sometimes painful & I would have to put it down until I could read and savor a passage or two at a better time. I often read during lunch break at work & some books simply aren't meant to be read in an office setting - this is one of them. Kathryn, the pilot's wife, is so well written - you not only feel what she feels, you eventually know what she will feel before it is written for you. No doubt this is because I could be the pilot's wife; I could live her life - I have lived her life; I have had her experiences and doubts; I have had her trust and faith that life is as it is - and then it isn't. I have not gone through the pain of death and then life collapses but I have had life collapse in on itself and this story rings true. Shreve writes "Where was Kathryn to put these memories now? She was, she thought , like a woman after a divorce looking at a wedding dress. Could the dress no longer be cherished if the marriage itself had disintegrated?" My dress is now 30 years old and the marriage has been over for 17 - the dress (and the memories) are carefully wrapped & sit in a closet - the dress never comes out but occasionally the memories do. So my only complaint is the ending of the story - it ends too quickly and too neatly - Kathryn & the reader deserve more.
Profile Image for Deborah.
736 reviews49 followers
May 17, 2020
She had a normal marriage. A good marriage. At least that is what she believed. “If you never suspected someone, she realized, you never thought to suspect.” There is beauty and eloquence in the portrayal of wife’s grief and betrayal in the aftermath of her husband’s death. Kathryn Lyons is woken up early one morning to learn that her husband, Jack, had just died in an airplane crash off the coast of Ireland. Jack was the pilot for the 104 crew and passengers on board. The union representative, Robert, is shielding her from the media and fallout, while her grandmother, Julia, is taking care of their traumatized 15-year-old daughter, Mattie. The author skillfully and gently unfolds the life of a family torn asunder by tragedy.

Here are some gems:

“Parents got hurt and swallowed it and watched their children leave them, incrementally at first, and then with head-spinning rapidity.”

“She studied him and added a small detail to a portrait that had been forming since the day he’d entered her house. It was what one did with people, Kathryn thought, form portraits, fill in missing brush strokes, wait for form and color to materialize.”

This is book I had in my personal library for a while, which I never got around to reading it until now and so glad I did. The library was closed, and I thought I would tackle some of my own books. I wondered why I had not seen any of her books published recently and did not realize that she died in 2018 at 71 years old of cancer. RIP.
Profile Image for Kerry.
62 reviews4 followers
October 18, 2008
This was an airport "argh, I need something to read on a 4 hour flight" impulse buy. Since everything at the airport shop seemed to be on Oprah's list, there was no avoiding it. I don't know what is more annoying about this book, the supposed idylic settinig of New England, or the preposterous misunderstanding of the IRA. The whole thing is implausible, unless the protaginist is a major idiot... Oh, maybe that is not that big of an assumption.
179 reviews6 followers
July 12, 2008
Shreve did a good job capturing the main character's grief and confusion, but the book just didn't hold my interest. It was kind of boring in the first two thirds, and then when the main character travelled to England and discovered the "twists," it just seemed kind of silly.
I was also annoyed by the main character falling in love with the union rep. I get that people bond under intense circumstances, but I hate that falling in love seems to be the go to literary reaction. There are other ways for people to bond, and for people to respond to trying times. This wasn't quite as annoying as Bel Canto, because at least it was only one couple and not everyone falling in love, but I still find that convention irritating.
I should have read this on my day off. I found myself kind of embarrassed to be reading a book about a pilot's wife at the airport. It felt too cliche, like I was fantasizing about being a pilot's wife or something. But it was kind of interesting to read something with characters dealing with the crazy aviation schedule. If only it hadn't been so damn melodramatic.
I left the book in the United operations room in Richmond, so maybe someone else will find it who'll like it better.
Profile Image for Deanna .
664 reviews12.4k followers
April 7, 2015
I actually read this book quite a few years ago but have been trying to update my "read" books.
I have read a few books by Anita Shreve and for the most part I enjoy her writing and her stories.
She did a good job of showing Kathryn's grief and confusion making the reader feel as though this is something that they could be going through themselves.
However, at times the plot seemed somewhat confusing and undeveloped. Some confusion and questions that didn't seem as though there were fully answered.
All in all is was a decent book and I will likely check out more of Shreve's books.
Profile Image for Kerri.
980 reviews351 followers
April 7, 2019
A well written novel that kept me interested until the last page. I really enjoyed the way it unfolded and the way things were revealed.
This is the second book by this author I have read and so far I have found them to be a pleasant experience, especially when I'm wanting a lighter read.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,743 reviews2,268 followers
July 19, 2007
I had read so many great things about this book, and I saw it in a used book store, so I bought it. I really didn't enjoy it.
Profile Image for Julie.
107 reviews2 followers
July 23, 2008
This is my third Anita Shreve book and I am not sure if I am going to read any more of them. For the most part I enjoy her writing and her stories, but the endings are sometimes unbearable. Anyway, this book was another Oprah book. It was pretty short and I got through it very quickly. Plot summary: The wife of a pilot learns that her husband's plane has gone down and that he is dead. While dealing with all the initial shock as well as dealing with the grief of their 15 year old daughter, she learns that the media and the investigators are saying that it was suicide. In an effort to prove to everyone that Jack would never commit suicide as well as murder all those passengers, she learns that her husband had many secrets from her and is not the man she thought he was for all those years together.

This book made me feel sad. Is it so easy for people to live double lives? Wouldn't there be signs? Doubts? It definitely reinforced my beliefs that no matter how well you think you know someone or how long you are with them, you never know what they are thinking. You never know what someone is truly capable of. This book didn't do much to reinforce any sort of faith in humanity.

Also, the book was too short. The plot developments were not fully developed and there are a lot of unanswered questions. Things happened too easily without enough conflict. I wanted more and was denied. The other Shreve books I read were more satisfying.
25 reviews3 followers
March 24, 2009
I got a great book from my friend, Kathran for Christmas, and I just finished reading it... The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve.

Shreve is a great writer... I love her language and use of words. I'm such a lover of language and the ways in which it can be swirled and whirled and encircle your mind making you want to read the same sentence over and over. Shreve is excellent at this task.

She makes you think. And I like thinking.

Right from the second page of the book she sets the essence of the whole book in motion...

"She took careful steps across the floor, as if moving too fast might set something in motion that hadn't yet begun."

To think that both the author and the main character, Kathryn Lyons, (the pilot's "wife,") are already in tune with the fact that this could be true makes me think of the many times when I, if I had been more in tune with what surrounded me, would or could have had the same feeling.

But, knowing does not change that. Knowing that getting a knock on the door in the middle of the night, meant almost certain dread to a pilot's wife, does not change that there is a knock at the door. Even not answering that door does not change what is on its other side.

The stages that Kathryn moves though are as textbook as anyone going through a similar circumstance. And the ease with which this happens is as gripping as it has been for me when I have faced a loss...

"And then she moved from shock to grief the way she might enter another room."

"But it amazed her the way the body kept moving forward, past the shock and the grief, past the retching hollowness inside, and kept wanted sustenance, kept wanting to be fed. It seemed unsuitable, like wanting sex."

"'I can't explain it,' Kathryn said. 'I feel as though I've temporarily lost Jack and I need to find him.'
'You're not doing to find him,' Julia said. 'He's gone.'"

There is a sincere representation of marriage in this book that really depicts in my opinion how a marriage evolves. There were words that rang true and were well written about the marriage of Kathryn and Jack, or what I would consider a typical American marriage...

"But actually she thought that any marriage was like radio reception: It came and went."

But, Kathryn's marriage does have its chinks. And they are legitimate. And Kathryn does begin to see the unseen.

"She doesn't know precisely what is wrong. She has only a vague feeling of vulnerability, a heightened sense of having been left alone for too many days."

The book is also filled with "dream bits," fragments, "like the fluttering glints of silver in the dark."

The message is clear, however... "Life could deal out worse than Kathryn had had, and worse than that."

It certainly can.

"A person is not who he had been the day before, Kathryn thought. Or the day before that."

No, we are not.

Good read... if you want it, I have it.
Profile Image for Tessa Nadir.
Author 3 books239 followers
October 5, 2021
"Ador lucrurile pe care le faci pentru mintea mea. [...] Si lucrurile pe care le faci pentru corpul meu."
Anita Shreve ne propune o poveste de dragoste destul de dezumflata, dar care pe mine m-a amuzat si astfel i-am acordat 3 stele, insa in conditiile in care exista atatea si atatea romane de genul, nu vi l-as recomanda chiar pe acesta.
Khatryn Lyons este o sotie de pilot obisnuita cu programul sotului ei, cu plecarile lui, cu venirile lui si cu faptul ca intr-o zi ar putea sa primeasca acel telefon groaznic care sa anunte prabusirea avionului sau. Cand acest lucru se intampla ea incearca sa se tina tare insa primeste fel si fel de zvonuri de la compania aeriana si cercetatorii de la fata locului. Acestia afirma ca sunt suspiciuni ca acesta a prabusit avionul cu buna stiinta, sinucigandu-se.
Ea incepe sa "sape" in viata sotului ei atunci cand gaseste o chitanta de la un curier pentru o rochie, apoi niste extrase suspecte de la banca si apoi decide sa afle cine a fost sotul ei cu adevarat. Ce va descoperi o va soca teribil, insa nu va fi singura, anchetatorul chipes si empatic, Robert, va fi langa ea.
Asadar, avem povestioara clasica, domnita la ananghie, cavalerul saritor, nitel condimentata cu un crampei de actiune cu niste teroristi si un happy end pe masura.
Ca sa fiu sincera mi-a "smuls" 3 stele pentru ca am citit la pagina 95 ceva dragut despre pinguini si anume: se pare ca masculii isi aleg o femela din mii de exemplare si dupa ce alegerea e facuta (nu stiu cum o deosebesc de celelalte) masculul se duce si cauta cele mai frumoase pietre si le pune la picioarele femelei. Iar ea, daca il place, accepta pietrele. Nu e cel mai dragut lucru din lume? Si pinguinul stie ca trebuie sa daruiasca pietre, nu chiar diamante, ce poate si el. :D Adorabil.
Un lucru care m-a amuzat este faptul ca la pagina 210 se spune despre Kathryn ca gaseste o "presa pentru pantaloni" la hotel, pusa la dispozitia oaspetilor si nu stiu ce o fi si cum arata acel obiect. Oare e banalul fier de calcat? Sau e ceva de dimensiuni industriale... Ca sa fiu sincera in ziua de azi nu mai are nimeni dunga la pantaloni, acum avem nevoie mai degraba de un "shredder de blugi"!
Trebuie sa mai mentionez ca numerotarea paginilor se face foarte ciudat, in lateral si nu am mai intalnit asta la nicio carte. De asemenea nu stiu cum se lipesc mai nou cartile, dar aproape la fiecare exemplar paginile se desfac si iti cad in poala ca niste confetti. Este din ce in ce mai greu sa gasesti carti bine legate. Poate ca n-ar fi rau sa foloseasca acea presa de pantaloni...
In incheiere atasez cateva citate despre casnicie care mi s-au parut demne de retinut:
"Apoi se gandi cat de stranie era nenorocirea aceea - acel fel de nenorocire care iti sugea sangele din trup si aerul din plamani si te lovea continuu in fata - nenorocire care uneori poate fi o forma de frumusete."
"Desi observase de atatea ori acest fenomen, lui Khatryn tot i se parea greu de inteles: felul in care nimic nu ramanea asa cum fusese, nici casele care cadeau in paragina, nici chipurile femeilor care candva fusesera frumoase, nici copilaria, nici casnicia, nici dragostea.
"Parea diabolic de deranjant sa inregistrezi ultimele secunde din viata unui om. Unde se mai facea acest lucru decat in celula condamnatilor la moarte."
"De fapt se gandea ca orice casnicie era ca receptia undelor de radio: aparea si disparea. Cateodata, lucrurile - Jack, casnicia - ii erau clare. Alteori, ele se interferau, era un sunet static intre ele."
Profile Image for Coffeeboss.
210 reviews2 followers
January 17, 2008
An airliner explodes over the Atlantic, and at home the wife of the pilot is left to pick up her own life, as well as deal with the implications that her husband may have caused the disaster. This book didn't grab me on many levels, and by the end, I felt a bit hostile towards it. The big revelations that are unearthed seem a bit preposterous and convenient, and the fact that her husband has personal secrets from his wife... well, you could have seen that coming. I didn't feel emotionally involved at all, and thought the pseudo love-interest addition of the union man was ripped from a grocery store romance. Ugh.
Profile Image for Coleen Guhl.
31 reviews
September 9, 2012
Amazing book, there are many twists and turns that keep you interested and on your toes. I love the author's writing style. Again, this I read in two evenings; so you know it was good!
Profile Image for Kateri.
176 reviews3 followers
July 14, 2008
I have no idea how I ended up owning this book, but I decided it would be a quick read on the plane. It was quick... but every second of the three hours was painful. The book suffered from multiple personalities. The first half was all grieving (fitting for a self help book), the second half attempted to bring in some more mystery and intrigue. Unfortunately the mystery involved was the "pilot" having an affair,,, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has worked in the airline industry. The last couple chapters of the book were the only juicy part, and at that point it was just too little too late. There are five books that I consider the worst books I've ever read, this is now number two.
Profile Image for Carolyn F..
3,389 reviews51 followers
June 8, 2018

I wish Melanie Griffith would have narrated other books because she does a fantastic job. Her voice is a little gritty and is just wonderful to listen to.

The story itself I really enjoyed but mentions of the really date it. I was thinking, oh yeah, I remember there were problems with them in the 1990s. I just enjoyed the whole book front to back. 5 stars.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,137 followers
October 22, 2012
Enjoyed the book. Fast read about a pilot with two lives who dies in an explosion on his plane and the surprising details of his involvement.

Profile Image for Em.
47 reviews
June 26, 2010
Who is the real wife: the one who was protected and was never left behind or the one to whom the deepest secrets were shared?

After fifteen years of marriage, Kathryn Lyons woke up to the news that the plane piloted by her husband Jack crashed, killing 103 passengers. Throughout the investigation, Kathryn unknowingly unraveled the hidden life of her husband and discovered the darkest secrets of the man she thought she knew.

What she discovered were as unbearably painful as Jack’s death itself. She could not fathom the reason behind Jack’s hiding the truth from her, how he managed to become unfaithful for four and a half years being married to another woman with whom he had two kids.

Jack and Kathryn’s family life was extraordinary because they had to deal with frequent absences of the husband due to the nature of his job. They both tried to make arrangements to keep the marriage going but Jack eventually fell in love with one of the flight attendants. Kathryn was busy raising their daughter Mattie and was endlessly waiting for every one of Jack’s homecoming not knowing that he had been living with his other family in a flat in London.

She only discovered everything after Jack’s death. There is no Jack to whom she could have poured all of her anger. However, despite the resentment that Kathryn felt, that kind of feeling diminishes whenever she is reminded that those two kids, though of a different mother, are of the same father as Mattie’s. This very fact connects Kathryn to both of them.

The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve makes us see through the complications of a marriage. It poses several questions that will help us ponder the authenticity, validity and weight of a marriage. What does it really mean to be a partner, to be a wife.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Abigail Hillinger.
69 reviews15 followers
February 26, 2008
This was chick-lit in disguise. I feel dirty and tricked.

Although I probably am being harsh by giving it two stars, I don't really see too many good things about this book. The bits where Kathryn are at her house are far too dragged out. Shreve relies only on the 'feel' sensory to explain what her character is going through, rather than the 'show'. The important parts where things could have been really interesting--such as the funeral or the first Christmas without Jack--are glossed over and barely given a paragraph's mention.

The characters were predictable most times. Robert, especially, the basically flawless man who does one thing 'wrong' even though it's really not wrong at all. It's 'nobel.' I did like Mattie, though. And her line, 'but how do you ever know that you know a person?' was brilliant. I loved it. This book could have been summed up into a short story, maybe 10 pages long, and that line being the focus. It would have been stronger and more to the point.

I did enjoy Shreve's description and images. And her way of personifying objects with human emotions. She pulled that off well, which isn't an easy feat.
Profile Image for Reney.
11 reviews
May 20, 2018
This book held my attention with twists & surprises although the ending was sudden.
The author describes the emotional turmoil of grief from the loss of a loved one realistically.
Profile Image for Ms. B.
2,906 reviews34 followers
November 21, 2020
The premise was interesting. Kathryn's husband Jack was an airline pilot. When a plane crashes and he is blamed. What really happened? Who was Jack, was he really the man Kathryn thought she married?
I liked Part I as we get to know Kathryn and Jack's past. Then started to lose interest as the mystery unravels in Part II. Part III was more like an epilogue.
Profile Image for Cresta McGowan.
332 reviews12 followers
January 17, 2015
So...it's probably quite obvious that I'm back at work. I was averaging a book a week and now, three weeks have passed with no new reviews. A few people have even contacted me (which I loved) about what I was reading now. Sorry folks, the whole having to get up early to teach the children how to read is interrupting my own leisurely reading time. I'm hoping once the haze of the beginning lifts, I'll be able to get back into a better reading routing. For now, once or twice a month is probably our max. It saddens me, too.

Without further ado...

The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve was given to me in passing. A friend of mine was cleaning out her books and stumbled upon this. Because she was moving, she needed a place for the books to go and allowed me the chance to rummage through the selection. (Don't we love a friend like this!). I picked up The Pilot's Wife and thumbed through the pages, contemplating on whether or not I wanted to read a book that might be too close to home for me, after all, I am a pilot's wife. I decided to take a chance. I'm glad I did.

Kathryn Lyons fumbles in the dark when a late night knock comes at her door. (I'm not giving anything away here, this is on page one) There is no other way to interpret the stranger on the front porch. Her husband, Jack Lyons, has been killed in a plane accident. Immediately, she is sucked into a tornado of events. How will she cope? How will she tell her daughter? This opening scene is heart-wrechnig, especially if you are parent. You travel with Kathryn on this journey of loss, hoping that behind each turn there is some good news to follow.

As Kathryn, her daughter Mattie, and her grandmother Julia sift through the wreckage of their lives and deflect the horrible stories the media perpetrates during this difficult time, Kathryn begins to wonder if she ever knew Jack at all. Her daughter, a teenager handling the upset in her life the way most teenagers do - with deference and anger and grace depending on which day you catch her - pops off to her mom saying, "How well does anyone every really know anyone else, anyway?". Kathryn assures her daughter and herself that she knew Jack, she knew her husband, but as the novel unfolds, we find that is not true; her daughter's wisdom far beyond her own.

Kathryn Lyons is a character you follow closely as you read. I think this is because you want so much for her, you want just one page, one moment, to have good news; for her to wake up from this nightmare her life has become. Anita Shreve will tease you a bit, but in the end sometimes life is just not fair.

Anita Shreve writes expertly. I felt every emotion, good and bad. Every betrayal leaped off the page into my soul. It is such a well-written novel that I believe anyone would enjoy the reading. It is a women's fiction piece to me and I say this because it's not so literary one has to think all the way through, The Pilot's Wife is a novel with staying power. It was made into a movie in 2002, but didn't boast big name actors. I've not seen the film, and I probably won't; the story in the book was so strong I don't need a visible representation of this work.

The Pilot's Wife was selected for the Oprah Book Club and became an international best-seller.

Anita Shreve is an author I will read again. She's written several books, many of them best-sellers. She says "She loves the novel form and writes only in that genre...The best analogy I can give to describe writing for me is daydreaming," she says. "A certain amount of craft is brought to bear, but the experience feels very dreamlike."

This is a book I would recommend to anyone looking to read a solid story. There is just enough tenderness and love within the mystery and suspense to pull a reader forward, the book is just really good. It's that simple.

For more about Anita Shreve visit her website at http://www.anitashreve.com
Profile Image for Deborah Ideiosepius.
1,623 reviews128 followers
September 23, 2019
This book was a firm reminder for me of why I regularly go 'off' mainstream modern fiction. While not a bad book the take home message for me was very 'meh'.

This is one that I think is old enough and well known enough that I do not have to worry about spoilers. Kathryn Lyons is home in New England one night when a late knock at the door startles her, it is a union representative there to tell her that her husband Jack's plane has been lost during a routine commercial flight.

The initial part of the book I actually really enjoyed, the slow buildup, the gently skillful descriptions of places, scenery, feelings.... All that was really pretty good in a mild way. The early part was pretty strongly a 'topography of grief' story -I seem to have been reading a lot of them recently- and I really quite liked it.

But then, about two thirds into to book it becomes clear Jack was having an affair, leading a double life, ect ect. Kathryn wonders if she every really knew the man she was married to, yawn.... travels across the pond to England to confront his lover, who turns out to have married Jack long after Kathryn did.... And, Hello, why is the word 'Bigamy' never mentioned here? Oh wait, now we have to deal with weird agonising about 'who was his real wife' (*Ahem* the one he married first! Bigamy is illegal in fact...) Kathryn goes wandering off in the rain like a crazy person for no apparent reason, we have to wander with her.

This last section bored and annoyed me, sometimes simultaneously, which is quite a feat really, I suppose. The topography of grief over a dead, beloved husband I understand. But, if he was a lying, bigamous scoundrel, well, surely this is a rage situation? Possibly a disgusted situation? Now, is not really the time for grief struck wanderings, or for doubting yourself! And why are YOU emphasising with the woman who admitted to knowingly marrying him, when she knew that he was already married? Why are you taking attitude from this waste of space? I had no concept of what the author thought she was doing with Kathryn at this stage.

Here is the interesting bit though; while reading, while trying to get through the annoying chafe of the boring nonsensical text, I was spending more time wondering what the hell was going through the mind of the author than I was engaging in the story or it's characters. This is a bad sign in a book. This is not what anyone wants the reading experience to be and I did not enjoy it.

Well, done and dusted. I don't see why this book was such a rage and I am confirmed in my belief that the 'Oprah's Book Club' consisted/consists of substandard, mainstream, uninspired books that while not overtly bad, did/do not deserve the acclaim heaped upon them.
Profile Image for Natalie.
8 reviews8 followers
November 19, 2013
The Time Travelers Wife, Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, and now the Pilot's Wife. Unintentionally my small collection on Goodreads has a very common theme!

Out of the three recently read- The Pilot's Wife is certainly my favorite. I was visiting my parents last weekend and picked this off of the top of a stack in their laundry room. I don't usually commit to a book without knowing more about it or hearing a recommendation but I'm really glad that I did!

I think its the most well written and you immediately get sucked into the characters and the story. Unlike the Silent Wife, this was a page turner for me. I read it in 3 or 4 nights. This book had twists and turns but they didn't feel cheap like they may have in Gone Girl. (Gone Girl felt kind of like a Hollywood best seller to me- good and entertaining and well written for sure with some great disturbing twists to throw you off but not something that would really stick with you)

The major theme- in my opinion, was the ability to create your own reality. In this way it was very similar to the Silent Wife. Perhaps Pilots wife is also about things not being as they seem- but the way that each chapter started with a snapshot of life as it was with Jack, meant that there was reality and there was the life that Kathryn wanted to live and she ignored certain details and moments between them to carry this vision out and mold her life to look as she wanted it to. And though she realizes that she was wrong all along, she also continues to do it when she decides at the end that Jack cried out for Mattie as his plane went down. Something she would never know for sure but that would help her cope and make sense of the life they had together.

Its like creating a photo album. You throw out the photos that aren't so good or aren't of a particularly good memory but keep the great ones. All of a sudden over time you forget the memories that aren't so good and your reality becomes what you see in the pictures.

Unlike Silent Wife, I finished the book feeling tremendous hope for Kathryn. It was a depressing book to say the least but so beautifully written, with fantastic imagery and underlying tones of hope. I actually finished it feeling satisfied and content and immediately recommended it to a friend.

Profile Image for JG (Introverted Reader).
1,113 reviews482 followers
September 30, 2007
The Pilot's Wife in a nutshell: Jack Lyons, a commercial pilot, is flying a plane when it explodes. The book follows the grieving process of his widow, as she tries to figure out what happened in that plane. The overriding question in the book is "How well can we ever really know someone else?"

There wasn't anything really wrong with the book, it was just overly gray for my taste. I don't think the sun shines in the entire book. It was solidly written though, and it did keep me turning pages. I did have a vague idea where the whole thing was going from about a third of the way through. I wasn't exactly right, but I was close.

This really was not my kind of book. I have a feeling it would appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks. In fact, my mom is a huge fan of his and I sent her this book to read today.
Profile Image for Daniel Balici.
100 reviews20 followers
April 10, 2017
To leave, after all, was not the same as being left.

She considered the question. Odd, she thought, how intensely you knew a person, or thought, how you did, when you were in love - soaked, drenched in love - only to discover later that perhaps you didn't know that person quite as well as you had imagined. Or weren't quite as well known as you had hoped to be. In the beginning, a lover drank every word and gesture and then tried to hold on to that intensity for as long as possible. But inevitably, if two people were together long enough, that intensity had to wane. It was the way people worked, Kathryn thought, with a need to evolve from being sick with love to making a life with someone who was also changing, altering himself, so that the couple could one day raise a child.

Odd, she thought, how a fact, seen one way, was one thing. And then, seen from a different angle, was something else entirely. Or perhaps not so odd.

"I knew about you" said. "You never had to know about me."

To be relieved of love, she thought, was to give up a terrible burden.

The Pilot's Wife was so different from everything I have read this year. Recently I checked all the books which have been chosen as Oprah's Book Club selections and Anita Shreve's novel sparked my interest. I am still doubtful whether it was a 4 stars novel or not but it was certainly better than 3 stars. For the moment I find it really difficult to find the right words to describe this book because it gave you a whole different perspective of a pilot's family life. At first glance the subject seems to be very dramatic, but given the fact that the writing is so descriptive, beautiful, smooth and you feel from the beginning that something is not right about the husband and you expect a series of mind-blowing revelations regarding his life before the plane crash, you don't necessarily have this kind of impression while reading it. The truth is that it is impossible to know a person wholly. Virtually everyone has secrets, some bigger secrets that affect severely other people, others secrets that are rather inoffensive.
11 reviews
April 22, 2008
I don't understand what all the hype was about with this book. I think Shreve's writing is pretty good - no complaints there - but the pace of this book is all over the place. It's very slow to start, to the point where I wanted to just give up on it, and then the last 2-3 chapters rush to wrap eeverything up into a neat package. The plot was pretty good, a bit "Lifetime movie" for my tastes, but decent enough. If the pace had been a bit more consistent, I probably would have given this 3 stars. I wouldn't read it again, but I know a lot of people really loved this one, so maybe I just didn't 'get it'.
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