Sunday, October 12, 2008

My First Review--Curtis Sittenfeld's "American Wife"

Curtis Sittenfeld's "American Wife" is a wonderful read about an ordinary woman who finds herself married to the President of the United States. The book tells the story of Alice Lindgren, a small town girl who grows up to become a librarian before falling hard for wealthy jokester Charlie Blackwell. Alice stands by Charlie as he struggles with alcoholism, then buys a baseball team, before becoming governor of Wisconsin, then President. Throughout Alice questions whether she made the right choice in marrying Charlie--a conservative, born again Christian--whose political ideas clash with her own liberal opinions. If you've been thinking that this story sounds familiar, that's because Sittenfeld's Alice is a close double for Laura Bush. The similarities between these two women, as well as the author's professed "love" for Laura, cannot be ignored as you read this novel, and its hard not to let your opinion of Laura cloud Alice. But Sittenfeld's portrayal of her narrator is so sympathetic, you find yourself really liking this woman, even if you do wish she would push back a little harder against her husband and his family as they continually steamroll her. I found this book extremely readable, and the first three sections in particular read very quickly. Although the final section of the book, which takes place in 2007, felt a little rushed and forced, it provided a nice conclusion to the contradictions of Alice's life. I would recommend this book to any woman--friends and foes of the current administration alike. Just remember, this isn't actually Laura Bush--just a stylized view of what she could be.

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