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The Pilot's Wife Paperback – 18 Nov 1999

3.7 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (18 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349110859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349110851
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 2 x 15.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

With five novels to her credit, including the acclaimed The Weight of Water, Anita Shreve now offers a skilfully 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 onlookers. 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 realise 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. --James Barry

Review

An excellent novel about the ultimate unknowability of those closest to us. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Compellingly told, brilliantly observed, lyrically written and when you get to the last page you simply want to run out and buy everything she's ever written. (SUNDAY INDEPENDENT)

Anita Shreve is an acute observer of personal relationships. (TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)

With five novels to her credit, including the acclaimed The Weight of Water, Anita Shreve now offers a skilfully 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 emotiona (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 h)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written novel about a happily married woman, Kathryn Lyons, whose husband, Jack, is an airlines pilot. They have a teen age daughter named Mattie. They live in Kathryn's childhood home in Ely, New Hampshire. For sixteen years, life has been good. Then her husband goes down with his plane, just ten miles off the coast of Ireland, and ever so slowly the very fabric of their life together unravels.
The media frenzy, surrounding the explosion of the plane that her husband was piloting, brings to light the inescapable fact that her husband had been, unbeknownst to her, leading a double life, a life that had not included her or their daughter, but had, most emphatically, excluded them. This is a story of Kathryn's navigation of the emotional roller coaster that was to become her life, as she is thrust into a maelstrom of grief and disbelief, struggling to reconcile her memory of the man she thought she knew, with the reality of who he now appeared to have been.
This is a remarkable book, written in clean, spare prose that underscores some of the very emotion laden issues with which it grapples. At times infinitely sad and poignant, it is a story of betrayal and splintered memories. It is a very absorbing, skillfully told tale of adultery that will hold the reader in its thrall.
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By A Customer on 23 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
I really only picked up this book as there was an 'Oprah' sticker on the front of it. I waited 240 pages to find out what I had suspected all along. What is written in the first three quarters of the book could have been said in one Chapter. There was just no storyline, bar the constant grieving which I had really had enough of after page 27. Enough already!!! The ridiculous descriptions of Northern Ireland at the end turned me off completely. It's a bit insulting to a reader to skim over such detail and expect the reader not to notice...ahem...we do notice? I could not feel anything for the charachters, especially the strategically placed saviour who appears and disappears, as if to 'fit' into the storyline (of which there is little). Sketchy charachters with little depth, no story, rushed ending looked like she was in a hurry to 'tie it all up'. It certainly tied me up. I shall not be reading another. Most disappointed as I genuinly wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
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By A Customer on 22 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
I've read several of Anita Shreve's novels and they have all been superb, this one being no exception. The story centres upon Kathryn and Mattie, the wife and daughter of Jack, an airline pilot whose plane crashes over the sea. The author deals empathetically with Kathryn and Mattie's shock and subsequent coming-to-terms with the dreadful reality of the situation. However, Kathryn is to discover that her husband was not all that he seemed to be and that he had been leading a double life - a life that he may have been planning to leave Kathryn for. As the questions are asked and the Press descend, Kathryn looks back upon her marriage and is forced to make some honest admissions. Robert, sent from her husband's airline, is there to help Kathryn through the worst of the times, but is he too keeping secrets from her? Anita Shreve writes with such simplicity and yet so much understated intrigue, that she kept me reading from the very first page. Her attention to detail (often seeming so insignificant to the story) often had me thinking out loud, "That's so true!". As with all the author's novels, you have to read on to discover whether there will be a happy ending. Superb!
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Format: Paperback
I had only previously read one Anita Shreve novel - The Weight of Water - but I thought this book was fantastic. Anita Shreve writes beautifully and I was gripped from the first chapter of this novel. The action is actually quite slow, certainly in the first half of the book as Kathryn gradually discovers the evidence which unearths Jack's secret but there isn't a time when the book becomes even slightly boring.
The only thing that I was disappointed with was, ultimately, the involvement of the troubles in Northern Ireland which I found quite cliched, particularly coming from an American author. However, I wouldn't say that it makes the book any worse as a whole.
I think the previous reviewer, saying that this is 'male-bashing' and 'full of venom', is being incredibly harsh. Obviously, the theme of the book is betrayal, in a BIG way, and whether it is ever possible to truly know someone, no matter how close you think you may be. The story is excellent and has great depth in the relationships between the characters. It would make a great film.
I am about to start 'Eden Close' now and am looking forward to it immensely.
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Format: Paperback
I read 'The Pilots Wife' in just two sittings which is unusually quick for me. The book certainly carried me along. The mystery of what exactly happened in the cockpit is sufficient to keep curiousity high.
The novel structure is reasonably conventional. The story is told from the the Wife's (Kathryn) point of view. A straight forward chronological structure is interspersed with flashbacks to events in the marriage. The main characters are few but interestingly drawn. Kathryn in particular is consistently represented as being able to perceive beyond the immediate and obvious. Her slighthly awkward daughter Mattie seemed familiar and Julia the grandmother was convincing. Some of the motivations of Jack seemed a bit doubtful however. The development of the understanding between Kathryn and the union rep, Robert is particularly well done. Anita Shreve writes very skilfully, cleverly linking subchapters without being too obvious and she uses language well e.g. The Irishman's description of the plane crash. I would have liked her to have used more than just one voice though. Telling the story more from other viewpoints would have been interesting e.g. Mattie's reaction to her Mother and Robert. Could a little more humour be inserted as well? The scene in the pub is funny and a welcome change of mood. I'll definitely read some more of this author's work.
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