The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

Anita Shreve’s is a name that I heard pretty often, and I was always marginally aware of her popularity. But, for some reason, I’ve never found the need or desire to read her books, even though one of my best friend enjoys her writing. When I found The Pilot’s Wife in the discount section of the store (a steal for $1), I decided to give it a try. The book I was reading then was beginning to get cumbersome, so I moved this one up in my list and finished reading it rather quickly (by my standards).

The Pilot’s Wife begins with the heartbreaking news of the death of the pilot to his wife Kathryn Lyons. The novel moves forward from there, flip-flopping between Kathryn’s past with her husband Jack, and the present, where she has to deal with the media attention surrounding her husband’s plane crash and the slow unraveling of his secret past. Although it begins in a marginally unconventional way, with the death of the protagonist’s husband, the novel moves in a rather conventional (read disappointing) way. Shreve, without a doubt, is a gifted writer. Her use of metaphors is startlingly beautiful at times. There are certain descriptions that are also rather poignant. However, the novel rests on description on the side of annoying. I don’t care to know what’s on the table, when two important characters are talking about a key progress point in the plot. In that sense, Shreve’s writing seems haphazard and badly organized. Also, it makes me wonder, if the story was long enough to be a short story, and was forcibly stretched and expanded into a full length novel.

Perhaps, like it is the case with many prolific writers, this might just not be the right first Shreve book to read. If you have read other, better works by her, I’d appreciate your feedback.

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