I’m half way through The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve. It was one of my recent $1 finds. (See Blog 10/10/12) I picked it up because Oprah’s Book Club recommended it, though I don’t know why. I’ve always been disappointed by their choices.
So far, my experience with Shreve’s novel does nothing to reverse that my opinion. I am on page 150 and struggling to go on.
Like other titles I’ve read on Oprah’s list, this book is about “relationships.” The story focuses on the widow of a recently deceased, commercial pilot. He’s been killed in a explosion while flying over Ireland and the mystery, if it can be called that, is to discover whether or not the husband was guilty of pilot error or committed suicide, taking 170 passengers with him. While the wife waits for an answer, her thoughts go back in time to retrace significant moments in her marriage.
I don’t mind relationship books. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Swan Thieves dwells on the experiences of two women who had troubled dealings with a mentally disturbed artist. Andrei Makine’s The Crime of Olga Arbylina explores a mother’s feelings about her perverted devotion to her son. But those two books took me beyond the ordinary and posed larger questions about love and life. So far, Shreve’s book seems little more than a long equivalent of “Can this Marriage be Saved?” I read it as a voyeur, peeking into a discordant relationship and hoping the ending won’t be as trite as a marriage counselor’s recommendation that the couple institute date night. In fact, I pray Shreve has some trick to play. I would love to be overwhelmed and forced to eat my words.
Footnote: I have finished the book since I wrote this blog. Shreve had a trick up her sleeve but it was as predictable as the ending. The wife finds a new love. One assumes they live happily ever after.
(Coutesy of Wikipedia.org)