Oprah Book Club® Selection, March 1999:
With five novels to her credit, including the acclaimed The Weight of Water
, Anita Shreve now offers a skillfully crafted exploration of the long reach of tragedy in The Pilot's Wife
. News of Jack Lyons's fatal crash sends his wife into shock and emotional numbness:
Kathryn wished she could manage a coma. Instead, it seemed that quite the opposite had happened: She felt herself to be inside of a private weather system, one in which she was continuously tossed and buffeted by bits of news and information, sometimes chilled by thoughts of what lay immediately ahead, thawed by the kindness of others ... frequently drenched by memories that seemed to have no regard for circumstance or place, and then subjected to the nearly intolerable heat of reporters, photographers and curious on-lookers. It was a weather system with no logic, she had decided, no pattern, no progression, no form.
The situation becomes even more dire when the plane's black box is recovered, pinning responsibility for the crash on Jack. In an attempt to clear his name, Kathryn searches for any and all clues to the hours before the flight. Yet each discovery forces her to realize that she didn't know her husband of 16 years at all. Shreve's complex and highly convincing treatment of Kathryn's dilemma, coupled with intriguing minor characters and an expertly paced plot, makes The Pilot's Wife
really take off.
Reading Anita Shreve's novel, The Pilot's Wife, is like unraveling a thread. From the moment Kathryn Lyons answers the late-night knock at her door, she and the reader set upon a course that leads to a surprising revelation - that Kathryn's life is not what she thought it was....
Her search leads her not only to some answers, but to a realization - that the possibility is slim of ever fully knowing those we love, even those we love the most. -- BookPage, Laura Wexler, May 1998
Shreve's sixth novel tells us the story of Kathryn, whose husband, Jack, flies commercial aircraft. Their family, including 15-year-old Mattie, revolves around the schedules and demands of Jack's job....
Despite its dramatic theme, "The Pilot's Wife" is a bit flat and careful. Kathryn is the main problem. Shreve makes her an appealing believable woman, but one more acted upon than acting. Kathryn does indeed change, but not until so late in the narrative that our sense of her essentially remains static....
As always, Shreve has written an expert and highly readable book. It is a measure of her talent that her longtime readers expect even more. -- Rebecca Radner, San Francisco Chronicle, May 3, 1998