A novel by Anita Shreve isn’t merely another story set down in her very distinctive style of writing. Her books set a calm gentle tone, influenced very much by the strong and stoic characters whom she casts in the central roles of each story. The Pilot’s wife is a story of love, contentment and awful dreadful inexcusable deceit. As the title subtly suggests, the main character Kathryn Lyons is the loyal loving wife of a handsome square jawed commercial airline pilot who, as you may have guessed, spends most of his life to and fro across the very wide Atlantic.
Her home in New England and the surrounding countryside is beautifully described, and everything about the good life Kathryn shared with her husband Jack suggests serenity and contentment. The passage describing the first meeting of the pair in an antique shop is particularly well written and casts them together in the inevitable entanglement of love.
The story opens with the devastating news of a downed aircraft off the coast of Ireland. It soon becomes apparent that Jack and the passengers on the flight have perished, but not all is what it seems. The airline need a scapegoat and who better than the pilot? Beside herself with grief and heartbreak, Kathryn has to come to terms with her husband’s death rather abruptly.
She also has to clear his name and satisfy her own desperate need for the truth. She gathers information, starts to revisit things in her mind that don’t fit in and slowly becomes suspicious of her late husband. Notes, phone calls, and flight schedules take on new meaning for her, and eventually she travels to Europe to find out the truth about Jack and confront her own darkest fears.
The Pilot’s Wife is reasonably predictable fare, we all know that hubby had to be up to something, but the story is well told and comes together as a well rounded novel.