Izmir girl, January 17, 2010 (view all comments by Izmir girl)
American Wife is a book that I think about again and again. The love story between the main character and her boyfriend/husband was very compelling.
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ldlombardo, January 3, 2010 (view all comments by ldlombardo)
This is the quintessential book of the decade. It is about a woman born in the 20th Century finding her way into the 21st Century. She is good, she is bad. She makes measured choices. She is not perfect, but she is perfectly interesting. "Faction" or fairy tale, this is a story that had me turning pages into the wee small hours of the morning. And don't even get me started on who she selected to be her lifetime partner. Boot-kickin' good!
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Elizabeth Lenaghan, November 23, 2009 (view all comments by Elizabeth Lenaghan)
When I was first told of the conceit of this book, I had no desire to read it. However, after seeing a few positive reviews and being compelled by Elizabeth Banks' performance of Laura Bush in Oliver Stone's W., I changed my mind (it should also be noted that I've read all of Sittenfeld's novels, which says something about how compulsively readable her books are, though I wouldn't have rated any of them higher than this). As far as the plot goes, I think this is the most sophisticated and intricate of Sittenfeld's efforts. Alice Blackwell is a fully realized character, in the best sense of the term. In fact, she becomes so real that you are either compelled to forgive Laura Bush for any/all complicity she had in the disaster of her husband's administration, or just forget the Bush White House was the inspiration for this novel altogether. (I actually found the latter more palatable in many parts of the novel, particularly those that allude to the President's sex life, but even those that revisit his social and war policies). Either way, the story provides enough "behind the scenes" gossip to fill its 500+ pages, and I found it a perfect companion for my solo-research trip (where it distracted me from a slight fear for flying and from wasting my evenings on television while I lounged in my hotel room alone). All of this said, there's something so easily forgettable about all of Sittenfeld's books, and this one (despite the loftiness of its subject matter) is no exception. I can't help but think a writer so talented she can make readers have empathy for a terrible man's wife should also be able to conjure up something I might recall hours after having read it. I will likely continue to indulge in Sittenfeld's books, but I hope they get less fluffy because I think she's capable of more.
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Christy Valentine, March 10, 2009 (view all comments by Christy Valentine)
Curtis Sittenfeld, an excellent writer, for certain, has crafted a novel that will most likely be remembered as a thinly-veiled fictional biography of Laura Bush. The fact that it exists is perhaps its greatest strength and greatest weakness. Sittenfeld crafts an elegant story of a well-meaning woman who finds herself caught up in love with an enterprising man from a wealthy family. Certain details about Bush's life are given life in the novel, and while this does make for engrossing reading, by the end of the book, one might feel slightly sick. During the last section of the novel, it becomes apparent that Sittenfeld has created an idealized version of Bush, one that she seems to believe truly exists. There is the creeping sensation that it is less and less an impressive narrative exercise, and more and more a concocted fantasy of the way this very real woman could be. Though I personally identify as a radical leftist, I found the last pages of the novel to read more like Sittenfeld's personal political views spilling from the character's lips in a way that felt very inauthentic.
In a way, I view Sittenfeld's novel as being fundamentally similar to Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight," though the former is a far superior book. Both novels exist as a physical manifestation of their author's deepest fantasies, and ones that perhaps the reader should not be privy to, much less under the guise of serious literature.
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Random House Trade -
by Richard Russo,
"Curtis Sittenfeld is an amazing writer, and American Wife is a brave and moving novel about the intersection of private and public life in America. Ambitious and humble at the same time, Sittenfeld refuses to trivialize or simplify people, whether real or imagined."
by Kurt Andersen,
"What a remarkable (and brave) thing: a compassionate, illuminating, and beautifully rendered portrait of a fictional Republican first lady with a life and husband very much like our actual Republican first lady's. Curtis Sittenfeld has written a novel as impressive as it is improbable."
by Michiko Kakutani, New York Times,
"Ms. Sittenfeld deftly captures Alice's uneasy assimilation into the Blackwell clan's boisterous...and she proves equally adept at evoking the daily texture of their early married life."
by USA Today,
"Curtis Sittenfeld boldly imagines the inner life of a first lady. Does she pull off a credible portrayal? Yes, unequivocally."
by Los Angeles Times,
"Sittenfeld wraps her arms around it. The scope and detail of American Wife are reminiscent of Richard Russo."
by Chicago Tribune,
"Sittenfeld's most ambitious and impressive work to date."
A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice Lindgren has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the president. In her small Wisconsin hometown, she learns the virtues of politeness, but a tragic accident when she is seventeen shatters her identity and changes the trajectory of her life. More than a decade later, when the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family sweeps her off her feet, she is surprised to find herself admitted into a world of privilege. And when her husband unexpectedly becomes governor and then president, she discovers that she is married to a man she both loves and fundamentally disagrees with-and that her private beliefs increasingly run against her public persona. As her husbands presidency enters its second term, Alice must confront contradictions years in the making and face questions nearly impossible to answer.
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