Andrea's Reviews > American Wife

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
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's review
Mar 16, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: read-fiction
Read in August, 2009

This is a very hard book to rate - a part of me thinks it deserves more than three stars and a part of me thinks that it deserves less.

This is the story of Alice Blackwell an American First Lady. However in reading the book it is obvious that it closely follows the life of Laura Bush. There are so many parallels and secondary characters are completely recognizable. This was distracting to me throughout the book. As another reviewer said "I think I would have preferred if it had been totally fictionalized, rather than following Laura Bush's life so closely; I spent more time trying to figure out what was "true" and what wasn't." I completely agree!!!

Yet, I couldn't put the book down and in many parts I wanted to because I was so disgusted by the main character. While she was sympathetic, I hated that she suppressed her feelings, her emotions, her opinions so readily and acquiesced to the demands of her husband. I hated that her husband just decided what he wanted to do and didn't take her thoughts into consideration at all. (I suppose in part this was meant to describe a generational divide.) I felt much of the book wanting to shake some sense into Alice Blackwell.

But then again, she was also incredibly intelligent. I admired her for her opinions (however silent they were). And I also admired her for her devotion (and this made me angry with myself.) I wanted to like her because in so many ways she was likable. And I thought more than once - if Laura Bush is like this in anyway, she's probably pretty cool.

The character was a very conflicted character. That came across beautiful. And I feel very conflicted about my opinion on this book. Maybe that is what the author intended all along.

The book has certainly stayed with me. I keep thinking about it...despite all the sex scenes (which I thought were unnecessary and detracted from the strength of the story) and the overwhelming angst (probably a carry over from the author's young adult writings). It's a book that I will recommend to others with the caveat that I'm still not sure why I liked it (because there were parts that I hated) but I did.

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

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Annette Andrea - can I borrow this one from you? No rush at all but it does sound intriguing!
Thanks, annette

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