Monday, October 27, 2008

American Wife

American Wife: A Novel American Wife: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really respect Laura Bush, so I was excited to read this novel. American Wife is loosely based on the life of our current First Lady, but her name is Alice Lindgren and she's from Wisconsin.

The novel is divided into 4 parts based on 4 addresses Alice has had, beginning with where she grew up and ending with 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In the first part, Alice is in high school when a very traumatic event happens (which also happened to Laura for real) that shapes her whole life. In Part II, Alice is in her late-20s and she meets Charlie Blackwell at a BBQ. In Part III, Charlie buys the Milwaukee Brewers. And you can deduce what happens in Part IV.

I really liked how Sittenfeld provides an in depth look at what it might be like to be famous, particularly when fame was not what Alice/Laura sought in life. She's portrayed as a normal person, with normal hopes, dreams, aspirations, failings, and quirks. I also appreciated how the author tackled Part IV without portraying any kind of political agenda. Rather, you get a glimpse of how difficult and complicated life is in a position of power, and how moral and ethical quagmires are easy to get into and difficult to get out of.

Even though the book is 555 pages, I think I would have liked less details during some parts and more during others. I wished there was more coverage on Alice's college years and her time as the Governor's wife and less on Charlie/George's "wild years."

The sex and language was definitely over-the-top for me, and I found myself skipping pages here and there. But overall, it was a satisfying read. A few years ago my mom gave me George and Laura by Christopher Andersen to read and it's likely that I'll pick that up to get a little more of the real story.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review - this one is on my wish list.

Trixie said...

Hi Tricia - Great review! I read a magazine review of this recently and was intrigued by the concept. Am looking forward to reading it myself now.

stacey @ bookthirty said...

The only book I've read by Curtis Sittenfeld was called "Prep," and it *definitely* had too much language and (fairly explicit) sexual content for my taste. It's so hard for me to get past that kind of impression with an author and try something else they've written. Interesting, though, that she's tackling something so totally different in this book.

avisannschild said...

Thanks for mentioning my review! I enjoyed yours. I agree that I could have done with more details in some places and fewer in others.

Corinne said...

I've never even heard of this and I don't know if I'd be interested enough to read it. Thanks for the review :)