November 10, 2008

The American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

This is a brand new book by Curtis Sittenfeld, also the author of the best-seller Prep, and I devoured every second of it. The book is supposed to be loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, but I didn't really think about that while I was reading it.

A quick synopsis from the book- "One what might have been one of the most significant days in her husband's presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House -- the repurcussions of a life lived, as she puts it, "almost in opposition to itself. A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtures of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous Charlie Blackwell, she barely gave him a second look. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

The book follows Alice's life from her childhoood to the end of her husband's presidency. I don't know a lot of historical facts on Laura and George Bush, and I kind of forgot it was even based on their life until the very end of the book. Sittenfeld is captivating in her writing and really made her main character, Alice, very intruiging. It took me a while to get through the book because it's a little long, but anytime I picked it up I couldn't put it back down. Sittenfeld's writing is funny, passionate, and realistic all at the same time. In this book she deals with everything from death to homosexuality (briefly) to war and politics, and it all somehow fits right in. Once you get to the end of the book, you almost feel a connection and sympathy for Alice and in some ways, our first lady. But for me the book was really all about Alice finding out who she was rather than being told by everyone around her, and that's what made it a book worth reading for me. I will definitely be picking up Sittenfeld's other books as well.

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