Poised, stylish, loving— the wives of astronauts were supposed to be the perfect housewives while dealing with a home life that was anything but ordinary.

“She had to appear calm and composed while her husband was strapped atop what was essentially the world’s largest stick of dynamite, seconds away from being blasted into space.”

Sally Ride, they were not, but with their own brand of feminism they lent strength, dedication and sacrifice to the moonshot effort of the 20th century.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

So many stories follow the astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo era, but only touch briefly on the lives of the astronaut’s wives.

Rating (4 stars)

Author Lily Koppel explored an entirely different point of view of one of the most exciting periods in modern US history with her book, The Astronaut Wives Club. When the first astronauts were selected, the original Mercury 7, they became instant celebrities. As the embarked on their new high-stress career, they brought their wives and family as well.

In 1959, only 7 women knew what it was like to be married to an astronaut. Koppel has reached out to the former astronaut wives and family and combined this with an amazing portrait of the early space program. These women were pressure to maintain the image of a wholesome all-american family coupled with surprise calls or visits from VIPs (including presidents) and including the agonizing worry involved with loving someone in a high-risk, job with guarantees.

Treated with dignity and respect, the stories about the wives and their husbands can be fascinating, funny, or heartbreaking, especially as each moment really happened.

There are plenty of books about the Mercury and Gemini era, but no collection would be complete without a copy of The Astronaut Wives Club.