Sunday, December 05, 2010

Review: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

First line: Have I made terrible mistakes?

From the back cover: A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice Lindgren has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the president. In her small Wisconsin hometown she learns the virtues of politeness, but a tragic accident when she is seventeen shatters her identity and changes the trajectory of her life. More than a decade later, when the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family sweeps her off her feet,she is surprised to find herself admitted into a world of privilege. And when her husband unexpectedly becomes governor and then president, she discovers that she is married to a man she both loves and fundamentally disagrees with - and that her private beliefs increasingly run against her public persona. As her husband's presidency enters its second term, Alice must confront contradictions years in the making and face questions nearly impossible to answer.

My thoughts: I love reading a book that leaves me wanting to read more about the topic/people involved/time period. American Wife definitely fit this and more. Loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, I was hooked from the first sentence. Now, I have to say this is not the reason I picked up the book - I was enthralled with the cover - but I loved the book all the same. American Wife is Alice Blackwell's life story. From her heartbreaking tragedy as a teenage girl to her role as first lady, we become intimately connected with her. It's an expanded look at what it's like to grown up and find yourself as the first lady of the United States of America. The story is split up into 4 sections (each an address Alice has lived at) - her childhood, early adulthood as a librarian, married life and motherhood, and life as the first lady. It feels as if this book is written from the perspective of Laura Bush - although I do not know her, it seems to match her public persona, that of a kind, reserved, polite, and guarded woman. To a certain degree, I knew what to expect going in to this book - I knew it was based on Laura Bush and I knew the bare bones of her life story. What I didn't know was how compelling this book would be. It's not some trashy story about one woman's tragedy or a smear campaign against the president. Instead, it's a thoughtful, interesting look at a woman in a powerful position -- how she got there and how she became the woman she is today. 

(I purchased this book.)


  1. I think I have this one on my shelf. Your review is really great!

  2. @Julie PThanks was such an amazing book.

  3. I did not know it was based on the life of Laura Bush...loosely. Hmm, that makes it even more interesting. I've had Prep, her first novel on my shelf for yeaaaaaaaars. :)


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