The Fighter Pilot's Wife, by Author (Softcover, 2006)|
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Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
A nonfiction love story. Worth reading.
This book presents a wonderful story in a compelling way. Told from the
perspective of a fighter pilot's wife, just as the title promises, it spans
decades yet seems to end almost too soon.
The first part of the book has us following the initially rocky courtship
between Air Force pilot Joe Guth and a teacher he fell in love with. Fresh out
of the University of Arizona, Gilberta Cosulich got her first teaching job in
1951. It wasn't what she had expected. It was at an Air Force pilot training
base in the middle of the Arizona desert. It was on that base that she met Joe
Guth at a dance. And they began dating.
When Joe graduated from his training and subsequently received an overseas
assignment, he gave Gilberta his address and asked her to write to him. She did,
and thus began a correspondence courtship that eventually led to their marriage.
The early part of this book doesn't have much of the author's (Gilberta)
narrative. It's mostly letters from Joe, presented with some introduction and
explanation, plus summaries of her responses. His letters, however, range from
doting to hilarious. By today's standards, much of what he said would be
considered manipulative. But in the mid-1950s, roles were very different and in
the context we read the musings of a man deeply in love.
After their marriage, Gilberta follows Joe as he's relocated from country to
country. We see much less correspondence, because they are living together
rather than corresponding. From the marriage forward, it's narration rather than
Fighter pilots are exceptional people, to begin with. Very few people have
the intelligence, calmness, and other characteristics required to be accepted
into pilot training. Even fewer have the "right stuff" to graduate from that
training. Joe Guth was exceptional, even among this elite group. That's not just
Gilberta's opinion; the US Marine Corps reached that same conclusion when Joe
served in an exchange program with them flying off carriers.
Joe Guth was an interesting character, to say the least. He had other areas
of high competence besides flying (e.g., woodworking), but flying was his career
until he retired from the Air Force. And it dominated not just his life, but
those of Gilberta, their four children, and their friends.
I don't want to say too much more about the story, because I don't want to
give it away. It was an unexpectedly wonderful story that almost had me in tears
at the end.
This book consists of 21 chapters, an epilogue, and an afterword spanning 375
pages. It concludes with a 376th page titled "In Appreciation."
The page count makes the book sound heavy, like it's going to take a long
time to read. But that's not how it felt while reading it. Not that I felt
cheated (I didn't), but I got to the end and wanted more.