The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have now read two Anita Shreve (Rescue being the other) and I think I can relegate her to my "Jodie Picoult/I-can't-stand-this" shelf.
My review of her book Rescue rated it at 2 stars. I gave The Pilot's Wife one more because I felt that Shreve's writing was better in this novel. However...still...don't like it.
In The Pilot's Wife, Kathryn Lyons is our protagonist. Her husbsand dies early in the story and the novel is a combination of current happenings and their marriage and past together.
Now, understandably, not all books can be happy. Different strokes for different people. But TPW was just...pathetic. Kathryn goes on a journey to find out why her husband has died in a plane crash. She is bombarded with the press claiming her husband was a suicidal terrorist who killed over a hundred people along with himself.
What was the most confusing was the introduction of the Irish vs. English politics into the novel. Set in the 90s, the book reflects a touch of the IRA and what was happening in Ireland during those times. However, it isn't very clear historically speaking and that aspect isn't introduced until far too late in the novel.
As a reader you're discovering the past relationship between Kathryn and Jack, their relationship with their daughter, struggles and happiness...All of this is neatly explained in multiple chapters.
On the other hand, the IRA plot is brought in so quickly and explained so little, I was left going, "What???" What does it mean???
Then Shreve sneaks in another little romance with the new widow which is awkward and horrible as well. Too predictable. Even the big reveal is saddening and there is really very little redemption with the main characters. Kathryn's relationship with her daughter gets a bit better, but nothing exciting.
Very bland book. It's too bad, because Shreve had bits of beautiful prose. The story line and characters were lacking though. The worst aspect to me was the disappointing character of Jack Lyons, a man who Kathryn deeply loves, a man who keeps a deep and unfaithful secret from her.
When I read a book, I want to either love or hate the characters. I neither loved nor cared for anyone in this novel. I was disgusted and uncomfortable by the portrayal of Jack Lyons and I was dissatisfied with the conveniently gift-wrapped ending.
No more Anita Shreve for me and my words of advice to her would be: pick a subject/tone and stick with it. Write about a grieving wife. Write about a family split apart. Don't introduce a terrorist plot and infidelity more than halfway through.
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