Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Julie's Review: American Wife

Summary: 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.

Review: I have never read a Curtis Sittenfeld book but I think I might go and find myself a used copy of Prep. I highly admire Laura Bush for her love of reading, promoting literacy and for being a great First Lady. That being said if you want to read about Laura Bush, you shouldn't pick up American Wife, because it's not about her life but rather someone like her. Sure there are parallels, but that's pretty much where they end.

American Wife closely follows the life of Alice Blackwell; a mild mannered, studious, well-read young woman who meets and marries the exact opposite of herself. That being said, for the most part their marriage is a happy one. Sure it has it's ups and downs but what one that stands the test of time doesn't?

While I really enjoyed the book, I did feel at times that Ms. Sittenfeld was a bit long in the tooth. Too many details that at some points I needed to skim over. Essentially, I understood where she was going in the first paragraph and didn't need the other 2 pages of detail. For example, the first time Alice goes to meet her future in-laws her stomach is upset and there is only one bathroom. Well Ms. Sittenfeld goes into great detail about that episode, details that weren't needed to drive home the point that Alice's stomach exploded.

The novel is told through Alice's point of view but I didn't feel that she sugar coated situations. I had a very good grasp of who people were and how they acted from her including the good, the bad and the ugly. I really liked Charlie. Did he have problems? Sure, but that didn't make him a bad person.

The Blackwell Clan was interesting and entertaining as well. The matriarch "Maj" was a force to be dealt with but she wasn't overbearing.

There are so many pieces to this novel that I can see why it was over 550 pages long. Although 100 pages could have been cut out due to details. The book tells her story from her youth in a small town to the eve of the 2nd election to the White House of her husband.

Make sure you don't miss the last page, there is a doosey of a twist laid in there.

While this wasn't a home run read for me I did enjoy it and enjoyed getting to know Alice Blackwell immensely.

For those looking for a take on Laura Bush's life, you need to read a biography on her. If you are looking for a take of one woman's story of her road to the White House, then this is the book for you.

Final Take: 3.75/5



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