Nancy McKibben's Reviews > Domestic Affairs

Domestic Affairs by Bridget Siegel
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bookshelves: reviewed
Recommended to Nancy by: no one; picked it from a library display
Recommended for: readers who would like an inside look at a presidential campaign in novel form


Domestic Affairs
By Bridget Siegel

Who could stand to read a novel about the insiders in a presidential campaign after suffering through the longest campaign in history this year? I suppose I picked up this book because the author is an actual insider (Siegel has worked for the state and national campaigns of prominent Democrats like Hilary Clinton and President Obama) and I thought I might be enlightened and entertained.

The novel’s heroine Olivia is a seasoned twenty-something political fundraiser who is surprised to be tapped by an old friend to be the fundraiser in the national campaign of a Southern governor who exudes boyish charm, sexy vibes, and high political ideals (Bill Clinton, anyone?) So already we see where this is going, and since the first chapter makes it clear, I’m giving nothing away. The author manages to make the heroine likable despite her blindness to the possible faults of her married seducer, and I kept mentally warning her (hey, I’m a mother!) to stay away from the bastard.

But the seduction is not the main interest of the book. What I found most arresting was the unfolding description of the absolute immersion in and fascination of a political campaign for its workers. Olivia cannot fathom why her friends are not equally fascinated, and she and the other workers happily neglect every other aspect of their lives to sink themselves into the primary campaign. As a side note, this very aspect assures that campaign workers are mostly young, as they burn out quickly.

Also noteworthy is a look at political fundraising, which is so central to the campaign (Olivia and the governor and the campaign manager are constantly obsessing over fundraising lists and whether they can meet financial deadlines) that it made me feel sad for our political system. Although Olivia and her friend and campaign manager Jake are initially drawn in by the governor’s ideals, they become disillusioned by his personality changes, as he is gradually but surely corrupted by his celebrity status and lust for power.

Read Domestic Affairs for an educational inside look at a presidential campaign, but don’t expect to be inspired by what you find.


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