Good Minds Suggest—Lily Koppel's Favorite Books About Wives of the Famous

June, 2013
Lily Koppel Journalist Lily Koppel puts the intrepid wives of the Mercury Seven astronauts front and center. In 1959, ten years before man set foot on the moon, NASA tapped seven elite military pilots to serve as the ultimate guinea pigs on early manned spaceflights. Koppel's new nonfiction work, The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story, chronicles how space fever catapulted this exclusive group of young women into overnight celebrity. As they endured public scrutiny and the pressure of having husbands in constant danger, they also became media darlings and lifelong friends. Also the author of The Red Leather Diary, Koppel has written for The New York Times, The Daily Beast, and Glamour. She shares her favorite books, both fiction and nonfiction, about the influential wives of noted men, and tells Goodreads that "the most interesting, tantalizing stories are often those about women waiting in the wings of history."

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
"A truly inspired idea for a book—author Curtis Sittenfeld (whom I've loved since her debut novel, Prep, which reads like memoir) steeled up the courage to take on the life of former First Lady Laura Bush—of course in this novel, her name is Alice Lindgren. The First Lady has plenty of demons to battle from her past, as she sometimes finds it hard to sleep soundly next to her snoring husband in their comfy and tasteful bedroom in the White House."


The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin (Goodreads Author)
"This tightly packed novel delves into the first-person perspective of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of famous pilot Charles. Life with Charles is no fairy tale—with the author exploring the raw emotions behind hubby's famous Atlantic crossing and the more harrowing behind-the-scenes coverage of the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. What's also neat with historical fiction is that you get to cross-reference—in real life Anne wrote several memoirs and advice-spilling books, and many of the astronaut wives also met the Lindberghs, who as aviation royalty were invited to watch the NASA Apollo moon launches."


Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts
"Journalist Cokie Roberts turned her gaze to the wives (mothers, sisters, and daughters) of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and wrote the Constitution in [what is] by now somewhat of a classic on the Books About the Wives of the Famous shelf. She peers into the letters, diaries, and recipes of these strong women, like Abigail Adams and Martha Washington, showing us how without the 'Founding Wives' our fledgling nation might not have flourished as it did. (They remind me a little of Sally Field in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln)."


The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (Goodreads Author)
"The world has always gone gaga over Hemingway women. After countless biographies about Ernest Hemingway's four wives, novelist Paula McClain turned to fiction to fill out Wife No. 1, 28-year-old Hadley Richardson. Set against the impossibly literary and romantic backdrop of golden age 1920s Paris, [her novel] gets inside a woman's head—something that, for all his accolades, Papa himself wasn't exactly known for."


Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (Goodreads Author)
"Oh, Zelda, you gorgeous Jazz Age minx! A woman of dazzling passions and lusts, who jumped with Scott into the Plaza Fountain—we've all heard you were a little cuckoo. (Once, in the midst of an innocent squabble, an ex-boyfriend invoked her name; I was actually pleased I inspired such intense comparison.) Even the book's title, Z, seems to carry with it a current of electricity—and Zelda, as imagined by Therese Anne Fowler, sparks off the page in the novel. People claimed Zelda not only wrote and contributed to the literary greatness of Scott, but also drove him mad, and Z suggests Scott may have gotten in the way of his wife living up to the full, shimmering radiance of her dreams."



Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Books About Wives of the Famous



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