curvy*mommy's corner

Book Review: American Wife: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

Posted on: March 4, 2009

Buy now at Amazon.com

Buy now at Amazon.com

When I started this book, I had no idea that the premise was roughly based on the life of Laura Bush. Which was probably a good thing, because if I HAD known that, this liberal-leaning reader probably would not have picked this book up.

However, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was hooked right from the beginning, and I was only 75 pages in when I started telling friends about this great book I was reading. The first half of the book was SO good, filled with twists and turns and little bits of foreshadowing.

The main character, Alice Lindgren, is a school librarian with a tragic past. We see her as a young teen before the tragedy occurs, when suddenly an accident happens and her world changes. Skip forward in time to a young adult on her own in the 70s, when she meets her husband, who seems wildly mismatched for Alice.

The story of their courtship and marriage moved quickly, and I was quite engrossed. More foreshadowing, more intimate descriptions of their privileged lives and not-so-perfect marriage. I couldn\’t stop reading.

But then, all of a sudden, we move forward nearly 20 years, and her husband has been governor and is now president. The story slowed down, became more introspective. I felt robbed. I wanted to know the details of how the couple ended up in the governor\’s mansion. I wanted to understand Alice\’s feelings about the road to the presidency. Ultimately, these elements were revealed, as flashbacks, but not as engagingly as the previous two-thirds of the novel.

When it finally dawned on me that this novel was a fictionalized account of George and Laura Bush, things finally started to make sense. But I felt jolted out of a fictionalized world, into an all-too-real world, and I couldn\’t stop thinking about how much I disliked the people this book is based upon.

If I could, I would give the first part of this novel 5 stars, and the last part closer to 3 stars.

I do recommend this novel. The author is extremely talented, with an extraordinary gift for prose. I look forward to her next novel.

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