The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve is one of Oprah’s Book Club books. For some people that is a recommendation. I tend to take it with a grain of salt, because I haven’t really cared very much for some of the books she has recommended.
This novel centers around Kathryn Lyons, the wife of Jack, a commercial airline pilot. She awakens early one morning to the awful reality that her husband’s plane has gone down. Robert Hart, from the Union, knocks on her door to let her know. He stays as a Union rep to protect and investigate.
And so begins a painful journey of discovery for Kathryn, her daughter Mattie, and even Robert. The present is painfully interspersed with flashback of memories of Jack. Kathryn has to deal with her pain and grief while everything about their life is investigated. After all, Jack was in charge of the plane.
Between the despair, the hate, and the lies Kathryn is faced by Mattie’s haunting question, “How do you ever know that you know a person?” It’s a question she can’t answer as the truth about Jack’s live begins to emerge, a truth that is so unsuspected that it is surreal. Her search for the truth only brings more personal pain as it unfolds in all its gory details.
“How do you ever know that you know a person?” is the central theme of this novel. It is a question that resonates with everyone. How many times have you been completely caught by surprise by someone who you thought you knew? Country songs have been written about this since country was born.
Strangely enough, this is something that I have been thinking about lately. Some things have happened in my own life that has made me wonder just how well I know someone, things that I would have sworn would never have happened. Mattie’s question is haunting because it has no answer. The things you take for granted about a person may not be reality at all.
It’s a book that made me think. I’m not sure that I liked it. I won’t ever be tempted to read it again, but it did make me think.
While it is definitely better than some other books that Oprah has recommended it does have some harsh themes. Adultery is one of them. There is a problem with foul language in parts of the book. If you want a feel good relaxing read, this is not the book for you.