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The Pilot's Wife (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – Bargain Price, March 31, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (March 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316601950
  • ASIN: B000FDFWHS
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

...an oddly gripping popular novel ... Shreve has done a terrific job with an otherwise dull subject: the aching innards of a betrayed spouse. -- Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review, Susan Salter Reynolds

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


More About the Author

Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts (just outside Boston), the eldest of three daughters. Early literary influences include having read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton when she was a junior in high school (a short novel she still claims as one of her favorites) and everything Eugene O'Neill ever wrote while she was a senior (to which she attributes a somewhat dark streak in her own work). After graduating from Tufts University, she taught high school for a number of years in and around Boston. In the middle of her last year, she quit (something that, as a parent, she finds appalling now) to start writing. "I had this panicky sensation that it was now or never."

Joking that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejections from magazines for her short stories ("I really could have," she says), she published her early work in literary journals. One of these stories, "Past the Island, Drifting," won an O. Henry prize. Despite this accolade, she quickly learned that one couldn't make a living writing short fiction. Switching to journalism, Shreve traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, where she lived for three years, working as a journalist for an African magazine. One of her novels, The Last Time They Met, contains bits and pieces from her time in Africa.

Returning to the United States, Shreve was a writer and editor for a number of magazines in New York. Later, when she began her family, she turned to freelancing, publishing in the New York Times Magazine, New York magazine and dozens of others. In 1989, she published her first novel, Eden Close. Since then she has written 14 other novels, among them The Weight of Water, The Pilot's Wife, The Last Time They Met, A Wedding in December, Body Surfing, Testimony,and A Change in Altitude.

In 1998, Shreve received the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction. In 1999, she received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey, and The Pilot's Wife became the 25th selection of Oprah's Book Club and an international bestseller. In April 2002, CBS aired the film version of The Pilot's Wife, starring Christine Lahti, and in fall 2002, The Weight of Water, starring Elizabeth Hurley and Sean Penn, was released in movie theaters.

Still in love with the novel form, Shreve 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."

Shreve is married to a man she met when she was 13. She has two children and three stepchildren, and in the last eight years has made tuition payments to seven colleges and universities.

Customer Reviews

This book was very well written.
Christine Gordon
From the stereoptypical characters to the highly contrived plot to the bafflingly bad ending - this book just continued to disappoint.
"soybaby"
I had a hard time putting this book down and ended up reading it in two days.
impossible girl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Life is good or so thought high school teacher Kathryn Lyons. Her beloved husband Jack, a trans-Atlantic pilot, and Kathryn have shared a strong relationship over the years they have been together. Their teenage daughter Mattie is intelligent and loving though a bit too independent as fifteen-year old girls seem to be, at least with their moms. However, her happy family lifestyle explodes into pieces when Jack's plane blows up while in the air ten miles from Ireland.
Already struggling with grief, Kathryn is stunned by the incessant questions about Jack, their marriage, and even Mattie's personal life. Rumors abound that Jack lived a secret life. Soon the media accuses Jack of pilot error and the flight investigators believe he committed suicide. After finding some inexplicable notes in their home, Kathryn is unable to sit idle as her past and her spouse seem to have their history rewritten so she begins her own inquiries. As she searches into Jack's past with the help of union official Robert Hart, Kathryn wonders exactly who her husband truly was?
THE PILOT'S WIFE is an SST-paced story line that takes the reader along for an intriguing ride. Kathryn is an interesting character struggling with what she learns about the husband she never knew. Robert adds little to the plot beyond informing the widow of the tragedy. He adds an unnecessary betrayal and romantic subplot that takes the audience on a inclement weather detour. However, when Ann Shreve's novel stays with Kathryn's revelations about Jack, the story becomes a great thriller worth reading.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on February 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
And she didn't disappoint me there. Anita takes you on a journey through a woman's self-discovery as she struggles with her husband's death and the reality that she didn't know him like she thought she did. It is a portrayal of a strong woman who sets out to learn who her husband really was ~~ while at the same time working to protect her daughter and helping her through this trying time as well as exploring her self-realization.
It is a quick read as well as an engrossing one. Though the book doesn't stir up lots of debates like Oprah's other selections, the topic of adultery still hits too close to home. However, it is interesting to see how Kathryn deals with it during her grieving process and comes to the realization that none of us really know another person. This book may sound depressing, but it really isn't. You have to read between the lines to see that there is a gift of hope that Anita was trying to share with her readers as you grow along with Kathryn on her journey.
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
"The Pilot's Wife" was a haunting, yet realistic tale. I usually read at night, yet I found it hard to read this particular book right before going to sleep. The book seemed slow going at first, but in the end, your patience will be awarded. I will admit that the story line was somewhat disturbing, yet in a good way. Can you ever really know you know someone? So many times, it seems that couples enter into relationships expecting their passion to one day subside. This idea has been accepted as normal in today's society. Yet, Kathryn, the main character learns that allowing physical, emotional and intellectual intimacy to fade in her marriage was a grave mistake. I am currently engaged and, if anything, I learned from the book the value of honesty, trust, openess and, overall, reality. There are no fairy tale marriages or relationships. However, accepting this fact and living in the light of the truth will free your soul. In the end, Katherine learned about her mistakes, as well as her husband's, and we can all learn through this awesome novel about the realities of love and loss.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Kona VINE VOICE on June 3, 2004
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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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on November 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Kathryn Lyons, the wife of an airline pilot, is widowed when the aircraft being flown by her husband, Jack, crashes into the sea off Ireland with the loss of all on board. To make matters worse, rumours begin to circulate that Jack deliberately crashed his plane in order to commit suicide, and Kathryn finds evidence that he may have been leading a double life with a mistress in Britain.

The first half of the book, which deals with Kathryn's attempts to come to terms with her grief, aided by her teenage daughter Mattie, her grandmother Julia and Robert, an official from the pilots' trade union, is rather slow-moving. In the second half, however, after Kathryn travels to London from her home in New England, discoveries start to come thick and fast. Although there is a single coherent narrative, the difference in tone between the two halves makes this read like parts of two separate novels, the first a psychological character study and the second a political thriller, clumsily glued together to form a single work. Unfortunately, I found neither part interesting. The opening chapters were simply boring and the later ones were full of so many improbabilities and plot-holes as to make the entire book lack credibility.

I do not want to give away all the many twists that the plot goes through, but I can say that they all relate to the discoveries which Kathryn makes about Jack's secret life. He has, for example, always led Kathryn to believe that his mother is dead, whereas in fact she is still alive and living in a nursing-home. The book's main weakness is that the most potentially interesting character is Jack himself, but he is dead.
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