Volume 93, Issue 60

Tuesday, January 18, 2000


Denzel's Hurricane blows crowds away

Creeggans spread brotherly love

Pilot's wife takes own journey

Dorion an otherworldly treat

Fiddler finely serenaded

Pilot's wife takes own journey

The Pilot's Wife
Anita Shreve

Anita Shreve's The Pilot's Wife is a compelling and consuming novel which follows one woman's terrible struggle to cope after her husband is unexpectedly killed in a fiery plane crash.

When Kathryn Lyons is forced out of bed early one morning to answer the door, her life is forever changed.

The man at the door, a representative from the pilot's union, brings news so unfathomable, Kathryn can hardly believe her ears. A terrible plane crash has killed her beloved husband, Jack and 104 hapless passengers. For Kathryn, the airline, the victim's relatives and the pilot's union, there are many unanswered questions.

Kathryn slowly learns to cope with the terrible loss through the help of Robert Hart, the unassuming union representative sent to break the horrific news. With media all over the world following the investigation the crash, Kathryn must ignore the insults and accusations from the outside world and try to figure out exactly who Jack was.

Small hints and clues are dropped which suggest her life was not as perfect as it seemed. What starts as a sad tale of love and loss quickly turns into a mysterious cat and mouse game, with Kathryn desperately trying to track down the missing clues to her husband's secret life.

Shreve does a magnificent job at weaving a tale of romance, intrigue and sorrow around the life and times of a once happily married couple. Her creative genius allows her to depict a seemingly perfect marriage, which is presented to the reader as memories.

These memories stand alone as chapters and are written in the present tense, leaving the reader to determine where to place the events chronologically within the story.

Using a language laced with pain and anger, Shreve keenly illustrates the reality of the horrible news by juxtaposing these perfect and happy memories with chapters of intense anger and disbelief.

Readers will appreciate the genuine friendship which develops between Kathryn and Robert. The ambiguous hints and clues dropped by Robert regarding Jack, lead Kathryn to wonder how much she hasn't been told – creating a tension which adds to their chemistry. There is a brilliantly written kinship and closeness between the two, which Shreve accomplishes by foregoing the stereotypical "woman loses husband, woman falls for next best thing" type of novel.

Shreve has masterfully woven a complex tale that cannot be wrapped up with a neat ending. The Pilot's Wife is a stunning and gripping novel which will captivate any reader. It contains romance, adventure and surprise, while presenting life's shortcomings in a way which makes the reader thankful to be a participant.

–Nina Chiarelli

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Copyright The Gazette 2000