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The Pilot's Wife (Oprah's Book Club) [Paperback]

Anita Shreve
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (912 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 30 1999 Oprah's Book Club
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 plan 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?

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From Amazon

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.

Review

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


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Are wives really that dumb and blind? June 26 2004
Format:Paperback
This would have been a better book if the protagonist (the pilot's wife) wasn't so unbelievably stupid. She and her husband essentially lead separate lives, for years. This is because of his job as a pilot (supposedly). She just goes with the flow and never stops to think if things should really be THAT separate. So....She is easily deceived on a consistent basis, and for a long period of time...yet was totally surprised when the truth was revealed after her husband dies. Real, average women aren't that stupid.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting read May 4 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My first advice, don't read this while travelling on an airplane. The descriptions and imagery are vivid. The characters compelling, sympathetic and realistic. There's a nice twist at the end that I didn't see coming. I enjoyed every page.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve has been on my to-read shelf for a long time. I first read Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve back in high school and loved it. Shreve is able to write about twisted social issues and immoral romantic drama like no other. Don't let the fact that The Pilot's Wife is an Oprah's Book Club book put you off from reading it. Shreve is a masterful fiction writer who deserves the acclaim surrounding her books. She's accessible, detailed, and unique in her storytelling.

As I largely read and review YA books, I often find myself impatient to get through an adult novel. Thankfully, reading The Pilot's Wife was easy for me; I love her storytelling and the complicated lives she weaves for her characters. Shreve makes you feel invested in these characters. Kathryn could be anyone's sister, friend or neighbour. She's an ordinary wife who has a seemingly easy and happy marriage until someone knocks on her door and turns her world upside down. I was so absorbed in finding the answers to the mysteries of the plane crash and of Jack's final moments that I had no problems getting through this book.

The drama of the characters (the death of a loved one, a fractured family, adultery, having a secret life, a failing marriage, etc. ) is wrapped around the mysterious plane crash that killed Kathryn's husband and the other passengers on-board. Although this book was originally published in 1998, the horrific tragedy of September 11, 2001 has made plane-related accidents and words like "terrorists" strike hard with readers. The tragedy of that day makes the events of this book more real and therefore the book to be more powerful. I needed to know if this seemingly average and decent man could possibly be a terrorist; a word that is all too real to me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars amazing twists Sept. 28 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written, page turner...had the entire book read in 2 days. Such a great story. Already looking for more books by this author.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Very boring predictable read Aug. 8 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I kind of knew what I was getting myself into considering the less than stellar reviews, but as an advanced reader, I found this book to be so boring, I skipped over most of it and only read the dilaouge. The first 3/4 of the book dragged on, and the last few chapters where the only interesting ones, and even those were disapointing. The end felt rushed and the story was quiet unbeleivable. I was surprised this made it on Oprah's list because it played out like a bad romance novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Moving story of mystery, character & strength Dec 6 2001
Format:Paperback
Although this book is sad in the beginning, I felt an immediate identification with the protanganist, and watched her strength grow as she dealt with the mystery of her husband's plane crash and unknown secrets. The character grows through her grief, and by the time the book ends you feel like you've grown to know a good friend. I bought this book for weekend reading, but I had to finish it in one night!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An insipid story June 24 2004
Format:Paperback
While reading Shreve's work, I felt as if I was watching a bad made-for-TV-movie. The plot is quite trite and the prose a bore. It is a quick read, though, for anyone who has bought this book, it should be regarded as a sunk cost and quickly cast aside.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I read it in one sitting June 3 2004
By Kona TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The Pilot's Wife is an insightful tale of loss and betrayal. As the story opens, Kathryn, a pilot's wife, has been told that her husband's plane has crashed and there are no survivors. We follow Kathryn into the numbing, silent, surreal world known to those who suffer loss. Memories of her happy marriage engulf her and paralyze her, but she begins to cope with the help of a kind man from the pilot's union. In the second half of the book, Kathryn pieces together clues left by her husband that lead to shocking revelations about him, and eventually, the healing process begins.
The first half of the book was an accurate picture of one in the grieving process; unfortunately, it was too long and became somewhat tedious. The second half, however, was very exciting, and I could hardly turn the pages fast enough to see what would happen next. The climax is quite satisfying and made me glad I stuck with it and finished the book.
The Pilot's Wife would make an excellent movie, with lots of romance, tragedy and intrigue. If you like stories that are full of surprises, you'll enjoy this book.
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