Anita Shreve · Book Review · Fiction

The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

And yes, this is one of Oprah's Book Club books.

I have two questions for you: (1) Do you enjoy reading contemporary fiction? If yes, (2) Have you read The Pilot’s Wife? Because if you enjoy reading contemporary fiction and haven’t yet read The Pilot’s Wife you are missing out on a seriously large slice of book pleasure.

It’s 3:24 in the morning and there’s a stranger at Kathryn’s door. He informs her that a plane flown by her husband, Jack, has exploded near the coast of Ireland a few hours ago. There aren’t any survivors.

The first part of the book describes Kathryn’s struggle to deal with the shock and grief of losing her husband while at the same time desperately trying to pull herself together for the sake of her 15-year old daughter. The first part of the story hints at what is to come in the second part.

The author portrays Kathryn’s confusion and disbelief by switching between describing the present with all its unpleasantness to flashes of a more serene and reassuring past.

Fuelled by rumours that her husband led a secret life, along with a couple of disturbing notes that she discovers around the house in her husband’s handwriting, Kathryn sets out on a search for the truth. The second part of the book is an unravelling of painful, unexpected facts. There is also a glimpse of hope. But only a glimpse. What appears to be a quiet sad story in the beginning turns out to be more of a thriller.

Some may argue that there are a few loose ends to the story. I personally didn’t feel too bad about the ambiguity towards the end because it seemed consistent with how the entire story had been told. All through I had felt as though Kathryn were telling the story as she would to a close friend, even though the narrative was in the third person. So it stood to reason that the reader would know only as much as Kathryn knew.

Each of the characters in this story is highly believable and give the reader a sense that they have their own stories in their own distinct voice. Anita Shreve brings up many interesting thoughts in this novel and it’s not always through Kathryn.

I thought this was a beautifully written book. The narrative is simple, smooth and flowing. I wasn’t able to read this book fast enough – it’s thoroughly absorbing! It’s story has been told so well that it makes a person marvel that the author has been able to work with as banal and common a theme as deceit and betrayal and still sound fresh. For the compulsive reader who enjoys contemporary fiction, this book is a delight. Read it.

N.B. Anita Shreve’s books are usually categorized under ” Women’s Fiction”. This is because she tends to focus more on the exploration of a woman’s mind.


8 thoughts on “The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

    1. Thank you, Aunty Reena! To be honest, this was actually one of the more difficult reviews to write since I didn’t want to give away too much while still trying to convince. I think you will enjoy the writing very much. It’s a good book!


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