TK's Reviews > American Wife

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
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's review
Jul 08, 2008

did not like it
Read in June, 2008

As I said in my comments when I posted this book to my "Currently Reading" list, I've "never read Curtis before but an semi-obsessed with novels about First Ladies and First Daughters. Plus, I love wedding gowns."

That's right, I was suckered in by the wedding gown! But come on -- it's a luscious dress, like a mound of whipped cream sprinkled with sugar. And truly, when I had a chance to read the ARE, I couldn't say no, since I have heard only good things about Curtis's stuff.

There must be something wrong with me, because I did not enjoy this book, and the more I think about it, the less I like it. I started reading and I was excited, this Alice Cole character was promising, she seemed sincere and real. Even Charlie Blackwell was a likable enough meat-eater, despite his privledged background and carefree arrogance, because we got to know him through Alice's eyes., who loved him despite herself.

I think I began to feel jipped when I realized there wasn't going to be an elaborate wedding scene in the novel, that Alice was never going to wear the wedding gown (or anything nearly like it) pictured on the book jacket. That isn't to say she doesn't get married.

Ultimately, two things turned me off of this novel. First, I realized I was reading a highly fictionalized account of Laura and George W. Bush's relationship, and frankly, I don't care about them or their relationship. I would have liked this book more had it been about some completely faux, wholly invented presidential marriage.

I read this book through to the end, because I had faith that Alice would do something dramatic, she'd do something to win back my respect, that would remind me why I liked her in the first place. But, ultimately, even her grandest gestures, and her most private, at a potentially pivotal point in her life, brought her right back to the status quo, to towing the line for her husband's administration and leadership. Her self-relfection and explanations were thin, and to me sounded more like justifications. Ultimately, I didn't like Alice Blackwell, the American Wife, and resented Curtis for having talked me into spending so much time with her (550 pages worth).

I'm sorry. Clearly, I'm not the right reader for this book.
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Reading Progress

06/16/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike Lindgren Wow, that must be a REALLY CRAPPY book. Meanwhile, how's our man Jess Walter doing?

message 2: by Pam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pam Not necessarily important, but her name wasn't Alice Cole.

I'm finding this to be more enjoyable if I don't try to make connections between this and Bush.

Mary Beth Oh my gosh!! It's the white gloves with the ring on over them that drew me in-not to mention the dress! My mother used to do this. Wear the ring over the gloves.

message 4: by TK (new) - rated it 1 star

TK I am just so baffled by all the hype this book has been getting. What's the BFD??

Rebecca Just my humble opinion, but the writing is superb.

message 6: by Pam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pam Her writing has always been superb. She creates fantastic characters as well that are incredibly realistic.

Mary Beth I'm still reading it. Even though some people haven't liked it. I really don't expect it to be biographical regarding the Bush's.

Rebecca I so agree with you, Pam. I loved Prep, so much so that it is probably my all time favorite book. My heart ached for Lee, even though I disliked her character. Sittenfeld's writing evokes so much emotion that even if I am personally unable to relate to her characters I am able sympathize with them. Have I heard correctly that Prep will be coming out on film soon?

I was sorry that American Wife was only 500+ pages. I could have read that many more....Sittenfeld can not write quickly enough for me. Fortunately, she is young, she'll hopefully be writing forever!

Stephanie Haley Am glad I am not the only one who felt cheated by this book. From what I understand Laura Bush reallly did kill a classmate of her in high school. But the fact that it happened to be her "true love" is a little hard to believe. Plus I also find it odd that she put so much effort into analyzing and comparing her sexual relationships ? esp.with the Laura Bush angle? I foundthis author and story unbelievable and self indulgant.

message 10: by TK (new) - rated it 1 star

TK Stephanie I think our position is unpopular but we are now a minority of two!

Brittany Nope...minority of three! I'm only halfway through the book, and I'm having a really hard time motivating myself to finish. And I HATE not finishing a book! Guess I'll be struggling through for awhile...

Jessica Add me to the list! We read this for book club a few months ago and I hated every second of it!!! It was such a boring story, she was such a miserable, mealy mouthed character and her husband was really a boring drunkard! UGH, even thinking about this now makes me angry!!! lol

message 13: by TK (new) - rated it 1 star

TK Jessica wrote: "...she was such a miserable, mealy mouthed character"

THREE POINTS for best-ever useage of the term "mealy-mouthed!

Jessica HAHAHA, thanks! The only good thing about this book was that I bought it on Amazon so with shipping, it cost me less than $5. :)

Taylor I also picked up the book because if the gorgeous wedding dress!

Jeannie Thank goodness I didn't pay good money for it. Kindle library.

message 17: by Ruth (new) - rated it 1 star

Ruth I bought it used at Goodwill for $1.50. That was too much to pay. I've read 150 pages and am quitting. Characters are poorly drawn, writing is not compelling at all, I don't care enough about this book to finish it. I'm glad I'm not the only one disappointed.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I, too missed the elaborate wedding like the cover implied would be in the book. However, I really liked it even though it was slowing moving at times. I felt like Alice managed to keep her identity and self respect while supporting her husband and her marriage. Sorry, it wasn't your favorite. :-)

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, I was pretty disappointed with it being about Laura and George Bush. (I know this is an old review but you hit the nail on the head with it.)

message 20: by TK (new) - rated it 1 star

TK @Amanda @Ruth @Jeannie It's fun to find like-minded readers!

@Holley I don't like to give bad reviews but sometimes I'm just so bummed out and frustrated by a novel I can't help myself. Authors have to have thick skins, right?

message 21: by Helen (new)

Helen Gazzara While being a mere Australian, I never once thought that the front cover photo was of a wedding dress, but rather, the type of gown worn to a Presidential Inauguration Ball. It seems to be modelled on what Jackie Kennedy wore.

message 22: by TK (new) - rated it 1 star

TK Helen wrote: "While being a mere Australian, I never once thought that the front cover photo was of a wedding dress, but rather, the type of gown worn to a Presidential Inauguration Ball. It seems to be modelled..."

A fair point, but in the US we definitely see that as a wedding dress.

sendann It's weird that you call the author by her first name, and the main character by the wrong name? Is that weird? I'm not even sure. OMG NO WEDDING WTF. lol.

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