December 24, 2008

Review: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

As you’ve probably heard by now American Wife is loosely based on the life of Laura Bush. We are given a look into four distinct times in the life of Alice Blackwell. From Alice as a third grader to a significant day in her life as First Lady the story draws you in.

Alice Lindgren was an only child raised by her parents and paternal grandmother in a small Wisconsin town. With no extended family to grow up with she was a quiet, reserved child with a great love of reading books. A terrible accident occurs when Alice is seventeen and it changes her life forever.

The next period in her life covers the time when Alice is in her early thirties. She’s become an elementary school librarian who doesn’t lament not having a husband or starting a family. Just then Charlie Blackwell walks into her life and after first turning Charlie away she’s swept into a whirlwind romance that leads to the next period in the book.

Charlie was raised the exact opposite of Alice; with wealth, privilege and plenty of family around to encourage his loud and boisterous teasing. Charlie becomes obsessed with his legacy and brings Alice into a world where she doesn’t feel that she belongs.

Lastly, we get a look into Alice’s life in the White House. This period covers just one day however Alice flashes back on some of her thoughts up to this point in her life and the decisions she’s made that have ultimately come down to this day and the effect it can have on Charlie’s presidency.

I loved the idea that this book was based on Laura Bush’s life. It opened my eyes to seeing politician’s wives in a different light and it made me more interested in learning about our current First Lady.

The characters are endearing and the writing so real the events in Alice’s life really touched me and left me thinking about American Wife long after the last page was read. The one downside to the book was that some of the stories seemed to drag on longer than was necessary. I honestly feel that the book wouldn’t have suffered if the writing was condensed a little more. Other than that it was a great read that lived up to the hype and my expectations. I recommend this book to all general fiction lovers.


Donna said...

I really want to read that now.

Christina G. said...

This sounds really interesting. I've always been curious about Laura Bush. She's so guarded, and I've always wondered how in the world she ended up with that guy. :)