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Book Review: American Wife ~Curtis Sittenfeld

I saw this book reviewed in TIME Magazine in September, it was published in 2008. Then suddenly I needed a book to review for a group meeting a few days before the election so without knowing much more I chose this book.

It is based on the author’s conjecture of First Lady Laura Bush’s life and the author’s fictional ideas about her thoughts and ideas.

Curtis Sittenfeld is a woman, one must add Elizabeth to her personal name, because this is her middle and surname as she author’s books. She is very young and has won several awards for her two previously written novels, one when she was 17.

Sittenfeld does say that one will be able to identify some of the characters in the story because they are caricatures of actual White House Staff and people we have heard about in the news over the last few years.

There is not a great deal of political analysis until the ending sections of the book and that is because the story is about how Alice, (the Laura Bush representative) the star of the story, tries to remain politically uninvolved in her life. It is more the shaping of her life which brings her to her present position and the author’s intriguing questions Alice contemplates near the end of the President’s Term.

Remember how you felt when you figured out that your parents must have had intercourse to produce you? “Oooo… icky – not my parents! “ Well, the numerous sexual encounters may sell books and lots of books but it was kind of Oooo…icky – too much information, if you thought about it in terms of the real people and I wonder if it is not too much activity for this group I am leading- to overwhelm?

This is a good read and an amazing series of questions to contemplate and think about, presented by a very skilled writer.

I also read in a magazine in the airport that they only expect 56% of married women to vote and then 80% of those will vote the same as their husbands. This makes the Alice character even more “real” to me and more amazing that she is focused on her retrospective questions in the final segments.

I could only hope and wish it were true. A fast fun read – very interesting as we approach the US Election Day.

Hope you will take the time to read this and confront your own thinking about elections and outcomes.

Let me know. I look forward to hearing from you… Please comment.

7 Responses to “Book Review: American Wife ~Curtis Sittenfeld”

  1. deb Says:

    More than sex to sell, I think she used the name Laura Bush to sell this book. I was very disappointed with the amount of story line about being the presidents wife. Good easy read – yes a book based on Laura Bush – I don’t think that is an honest representation of what this book is.

  2. meggin Says:

    I am reading *The Man of My Dreams* by the same author presently and it is such an easy and unique outlook on different everyday subjects that I went to put this new book on hold at the library! Thanks for the book report. :)

  3. Patricia Says:

    Deb – thank you for your comments and glad you are reading the book! Yes, I think this author uses big ideas and people to get read and published. She is from the preppy world she describes. Most writers just take an existing idea to use to create their stories, I thought this book was more intriguing because of the author’s ability to share what the characters are thinking and their self-analysis. It is definitely a work of fiction – I am sure that Laura Bush is not as intelligent as the fictional character!

    Meggin – Thank you for your comments, I have not read the book you are reading but am amazed by this author’s character development and her ability to write dialogue – at such a young age. She is now doing some good work in magazines too – I am putting together material to do a book group study on this book and am discovering some amazing things.

  4. Carol Ann Says:

    I’ve finished the book and DID enjoy it. However, as I was reading, I thought “Hmm, this can’t be Laura Bush.” Around the middle of the book, I felt more like that it could be her life, of course, with a little fiction to spice things up. The author did an excellent job in creating this fictional book based on nonfiction facts.

  5. Patricia Says:

    Carol Ann,
    Thank you for your comments, I will look forward to expanding on the book and it’s creations on Wednesday night in person…..I hope it was fun?

    Wanted to do something lighter around all these last minute election pressures….

    Patricias last blog post..Look Boss! De Wall! De Wall!

  6. Barbara Says:

    my goodness, someone else who read this book and even replies to her comments? i just finished american wife, and i read prep about a year ago. curtis sittenfeld may be my favorite female author. she can somehow write books that are not particularly exciting yet that have more realistic characters than most others i have read. her strength is in her way of expressing perfectly the distance between how the rest of the world views us and how we view ourselves. this has never been more finely executed as it is in american wife. might i also reccommend an author to patricia? read anything by peter s beagle you can find. he is my favorite male author, and i can only say you will have to read one of his books to see why. my strongest reccommendation for curtis sittenfeld and for peter s beagle :n thank you for your review

  7. patricia Says:

    Welcome Barbara and thanks ever so much for the good comments and new author suggestions.

    I am so pleased this particular book came my way and liked so much how Sittenfeld uses dialog and tells one the inside story – I was delighted that Time Magazine picked it as the #3 book on the Top Ten list for 2008.

    Everyone who has read it that I have visited with has thought well of it and her style.

    I will work on reading a Peter Beagle in the new year….thank you again for the recommendation…Sorry this took so long to reply, but I keep losing my computer connection this holiday season because of our bazaar snow storm. Then I had several days where nothing would moderate…looks like I am back now – thank goodness