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American Wife: A Novel [Hardcover]

Curtis Sittenfeld
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 2 2008
On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes President, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek–one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility. As Charlie’s tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?

In Alice Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is a gorgeously written novel that weaves class, wealth, race, and the exigencies of fate into a brilliant tapestry–a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable, and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare.


Praise for American Wife

“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.”
–Richard Russo

“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.”
–Kurt Andersen

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Sittenfeld tracks, in her uneven third novel, the life of bookish, naïve Alice Lindgren and the trajectory that lands her in the White House as first lady. Charlie Blackwell, her boyishly charming rake of a husband, whose background of Ivy League privilege, penchant for booze and partying, contempt for the news and habit of making flubs when speaking off the cuff, bears more than a passing resemblance to the current president (though the Blackwells hail from Wisconsin, not Texas). Sittenfeld shines early in her portrayal of Alice's coming-of-age in Riley, Wis., living with her parents and her mildly eccentric grandmother. A car accident in her teens results in the death of her first crush, which haunts Alice even as she later falls for Charlie and becomes overwhelmed by his family's private summer compound and exclusive country club membership. Once the author leaves the realm of pure fiction, however, and has the first couple deal with his being ostracized as a president who favors an increasingly unpopular war, the book quickly loses its panache and sputters to a weak conclusion that doesn't live up to the fine storytelling that precedes it. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“A well-researched book that imagines what lies behind that placid façade of the first lady…Ms. Sittenfeld was not out to sensationalize but to sympathize.
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times

“Brilliant…[A] triumph…Curtis Sittenfeld has provided a plausible secret history of an American embarrassment – and a grand entertainment.”
Joe Klein, Time Magazine

“A smart and sophisticated portrait of a high-profile political wife…Sittenfeld has an astonishing gift for creating characters that take up residence in readers’ heads.”
Connie Schultz,Washington Post Book World

“Sittenfeld boldly imagines the inner life of a first lady…an intimate and daring story…American Wife is a vicarious experience, an up-close portrait of the interior life of a very complicated woman…cinematic.”
–USA Today

“The novel, Sittenfeld’s most fully realized yet, artfully evokes the painful reverberations of the past.”
–New Yorker

“Compelling...enormously sympathetic...Sittenfeld’s remarkable gifts as a storyteller draw you back into the fictional world of Alice Blackwell. She writes in the sharp, realistic tradition of Philip Roth and Richard Ford–clear, unpretentious prose; metaphors so spot-on you barely notice them. Sittenfeld may have lifted the set pieces from a real woman’s life, but in the process she has created a wise and insightful character who is entirely her own.”
–Time Out New York

“Ambitious…Sittenfeld installs herself deep within the psyche of the tight-lipped wife of the president and emerges with an evenhanded, compassionate look at her mind and heart…powerfully intimate. Grade: A”
–Washington Post

“A masterful highbrow-lowbrow mash-up that satisfies as ass-kicking literary fiction
and juicy gossip simultaneously.”
–Radar

“With American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld has deftly crossed an extraordinarily high wire…I read American Wife in just two or three delicious sittings, struck by the granular clarity of the author’s descriptions and the down-to-earth believability of the story, bewitched by the charming, frustrating woman at the center of it: Laura Bush.”
— Ana Marie Cox, The New York Observer

“Curtis Sittenfeld is one of our best contemporary chroniclers of class and caste… Sittenfeld imagines this couple so deliciously and so plausibly… Curtis Sittenfeld invents a deep, messy, sympathetic life for a public person whose surface is all we'll ever know.”
— St Petersburg Times

“Immensely readable. It's a nuanced portrait of a woman in a singularly fascinating position.”
— Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A broad, deep and utterly convincing account…a portrait of a woman and a marriage that also brings the reader as close to the probable essence of the outgoing president as any other novelist, or any biographer, is likely to get.”
— Portland Oregonian

“We love Sittenfeld. We love her wry, razor-sharp observations. We love her funny, straightforward honesty…[American Wife] is an empathetic, fascinating, and gorgeously written story about a 30-year marriage. We devoured it in one night.”
— Boston Magazine

“Endearing and poignant, humorous and enlightening, American Wife is a must-read for Sittenfeld fans--and a good first read for would-be converts.”
— Fredericksburg Freelance Star

“An entertaining, racy tale that's inspired more than a bit by the life of our current president's wife, Laura Bush…A well-told tale that will leave many readers wondering: How much of Sittenfeld's story might be closer to fact than fiction?”
— St Louis Post Dispatch

“The scope and detail of American Wife are reminiscent of Richard Russo. Like Russo, she creates characters from the ground up, ancestry, neighborhood, culture and all.”
–LA Times

American Wife  promises to be another sensation.”
- Dayton Daily News

American Wife is a sparkling, sprawling novel…A ridiculously gifted writer…Sittenfeld has harnessed her talents perfectly in American Wife, producing an exhilirating epic infused with humor, pain, and hope.”
–BookPage

“Widely anticipated and vastly entertaining… An intelligent, well-crafted, psychologically astute novel”
–New York Sun

“Highly engaging…fascinating depth.”
— Seattle Times

“A well-researched, juicy roman a clef about the current first lady.”
— Boston Globe

“Ambitious…entertaining…a parable of America in the years of the second Bush presidency.”
Joyce Carol Oates, cover of The New York Times Book Review

“With her first line - “Have I made terrible mistakes?” - Alice Blackwell (a fictional First Lady modeled after Laura Bush) reels us into a gripping epic of public and private lives. A gem.”
–Good Housekeeping

“This searing page-turner will make you wonder what unspoken promises lie behind the victory smiles of any power couple.”
- Redbook

“What is Laura Bush thinking? That’s the question Sittenfeld ponders in her novel,
loosely based on the life of our First Lady…Just as she did in Prep, Sittenfeld masterfully deflates
the middle-class fairy tale — rose gardens and all.”
–Marie Claire

“Bold…conveys in convincing, thoroughly riveting detail a life far more complicated than it appears on the surface…What she does here, in prose as winning as it is confident, is to craft out of the first-person narration a compelling, very human voice, one full of kindness and decency. And, as if making the Bush-like couple entirely sympathetic is not enough of a feat in itself, she also provides many rich insights into the emotional ebb and flow of a long-term marriage.”
–Booklist, Upfront and Starred review

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars ALICE BLACKWELL OR LAURA BUSH? Oct. 7 2008
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Many will remember narrator/actress Kimberly Farr as the Brekkian Langor in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Symbiosis". Others won't forget her after hearing her performance of American Wife. She's a many faceted performer with diverse roles on Broadway and television to her credit. Her voice is clear, distinct, perhaps stage trained. She is adept in moving from the tone of an 8-year-old girl to a grandmother to those of middle age, and very effective when Charlie enters the picture.

American Wife is at its heart the story of Alice and Charlie Blackwell. We first meet Alice at a tender age when she has accompanied her grandmother to the grocery store to buy hearts of palm. The year is 1954, and she is an only child, an innocent little girl we are given to believe. She lives with her parents and grandmother in Riley, Wisconsin.

The innocent child grows into a proper young lady who loves books. Tragedy strikes when at 17 a boy to whom she is attracted, Andrew, is killed in an auto accident. It's Alice's fault as she had run a stop sign and tore into his car. His death has a deep effect upon her.

Some years later, at the age of 31, she will meet and marry Charlie Blackstone, the wealthy, hell-raising son of a wealthy Republican family. Little did she know that the Charlie she deems "churlish" will some day be the President of the United States and she First Lady of our land.

Yes, the scene is Wisconsin rather than Texas, but the comparisons, imagined or real, to the life of Laura Bush are obvious. The author has been quoted as saying she " hates George W. And yet I think his wife is sincere, down-to-earth, smart -- and a role model for all Americans. "

An imagined First Lady or Laura Bush revealed? Listen and decide for yourself.

- Gail Cooke
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4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... May 30 2011
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
My first read of 2010 was the latest novel by one of my favourite authors, Curtis Sittenfeld (of Prep and The Man of My Dreams). American Wife, which is based on the life of Laura Bush, represents a bit of a departure from Sittenfeld's usual style but still contains the elements of talented authorship: developed and personable characters, vividly descriptive settings and an intriguing plot. Sittenfeld divides her novel into four sections: The protagonist, Alice, as a child-come-teenager whose life changes after a heart-breaking tragedy; Alice as a working, single woman who eventually meets the goofy but charming Charlie Blackwell; Alice as a stay-at-home mom frustrated by her husband's childishness and his alcoholism; and, finally, Alice as a reluctant First Lady in the throes of war in the Middle East. I enjoyed the first two sections every bit as much as Sittenfeld's other works but I found the second half of the book disappointing. Old memories keep recurring and past hurts are rehashed; the narrative becomes "skimable" and it feels like the author is simply trying to fill space. I did appreciate the perspective on the "Blackwell" (read: Bush) government, though, as Alice, a registered Democrat, provides interesting insight on an administration in which she struggles to believe.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking read... May 3 2010
By Jill Meyer HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"American Wife" is a huge, juicy, wonderful novel. Obviously based on the life of Laura Welch Bush, Sittenfeld extrapolates from Bush's biography a "back story". It's probably wishful thinking that makes Sittenfeld have her Laura Bush/Alice Blackwell character do in the last chapter the one thing that the real Laura Bush has never done in "real life".

But if Sittenfeld makes free with the ending, she does bring life to Charlie Blackwell and his wife Alice. We see what may have been the attraction between the real George Bush and his wife.

I enjoyed this book and, while long, never bored me in the least.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Starts with a bang, ends up with a sizzle! March 9 2009
Format:Hardcover
The book is divided into four segments, each dealing with a different time period in Alice Lundgren's life. The first section, dealing primarily with Alice's immediate family and her youthful years, is captivating and hold's the reader's intererst. The second section, is much the same but deals with her years as an independent young woman making her way in the world. A tragedy occurs which has a devastating impact on her life, both in younger and future years.

If you have read the editorial reviews, then you already know the outline of the story, so to save time and space, I will not repeat what has already been written. Suffice it to say, as we come to segments three and four (Alice's family life with arrogant, self-centered, thoughtless, future president Charlie Blackwell,) the story fizzles. There is a rehash of old wounds, hurts and life events to the point where it appears the author was merely trying to fill up space. Just when the reader anticipates life will be exciting as a president's wife, the story loses interest. The ending was a rather preditable, uneventful, fairy tale conclusion which, after 555 pages, left me feeling "a somewhat interesting read, but thank goodness it's over." The book had a huge potential if only the captivating beginning had carried through to the end.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  366 reviews
120 of 139 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings: good story but knowing the background ruins it. Oct. 2 2008
By Fermata - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
When I ordered this book, I didn't know that it was supposed to be based (loosely or otherwise) on Laura Bush. I ordered it because I am fascinated by what it would be like to be behind the doors of the real White House. (If you want a non-fiction view, I recommend:

America's First Families: An Inside View of 200 Years of Private Life in the White House (Lisa Drew Books)

I did find out that the book was loosely (?) based on Laura Bush's life prior to reading it. It is through that lens that I wound up forming my opinion on the book.

As a work of hypothetical fiction, the book was interesting and entertaining. You meet a lot of characters in the book -- particularly the early life of Alice -- that you wouldn't expect to meet in a midwest middle class traditional family and you catch a glimpse of that period that is outside the Kennedy "Camelot" rose-colored glasses. From that perspective, as a novel, it stretches your imagination and makes for a book that is "out of the ordinary".

However, knowing that it is based in part on the life of Laura Bush -- I think this really does a disservice to the book and to the woman. I don't have strong feelings about Laura Bush either way but by making this a work of fiction, you constantly find yourself wondering which parts were true and which ones were not. If everything was true, then you get a very unkind picture of the person who is Laura Bush. If much of it is untrue, then you feel sorry for Laura Bush for being "slandered" and the voyeurism into what should be very private events, feelings and thoughts for this very public person. You feel a little guilty even reading it.

I think the author would have been better off not trying to tie this novel to any particular person. That way, there would not be the "distraction" that you ultimately feel as you read trying to separate fact from fiction.
96 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it Sept. 2 2008
By B. Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Great summaries in the other reviews - I won't repeat those.

I loved the beginning and middle of this book. Loved Alice, her childhood, her growing up experiences, her family, her life as a single woman, her courtships, her experiences with the Blackwell family (these were my favorite sections), and her relationship with her husband, the future president. All of these things are plot lines that Sittenfeld wrote BRILLIANTLY.

When I finished reading this book, however, I was lukewarm about the ending. 2 weeks later, when I was still thinking about the book, I realized how fervently it had stuck with me, and have since decided that it was one of my favorites of 2008 so far.

Great work, Curtis. I praise your boldness and your talent for writing about women in a sometimes awkward and uncomfortable but always honest fashion. Definitely worth the read.
51 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True art. A nuanced portrait of how it feels to be the wife of a major political figure, or any celebrity Sept. 11 2008
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Let's get this out of the way up front: If AMERICAN WIFE were nothing more than a barely disguised attempt to imagine and illuminate the inner life of Laura Bush, it might be entertaining in a titillating sort of way, but hardly worth more attention than a quickly forgotten magazine profile. In truth, Curtis Sittenfeld's third novel is a rich and arresting portrait of an enduring marriage, of the inevitable compromises necessary to reach that longevity, and of the unremitting demands of public life and the price of fame.

Sittenfeld's protagonist, Alice Lindgren, is born in a small Wisconsin town in 1946, the only child of a bank manager and a housewife. Her early years are unremarkable until a September night in 1963 when the car she's driving on the way to a party collides with one driven by Andrew Imhof, a classmate with whom she's moving toward a relationship. Andrew is killed, and the specter of his loss shadows Alice's waking (and dreaming) life.

Alice falls into a relationship with Andrew's older brother, Pete, and when she becomes pregnant, her grandmother takes her to Chicago for an abortion --- a decision that plays a central role in the novel's denouement.

Sittenfeld fast forwards to Madison, Wisconsin in 1977, where Alice contentedly works as an elementary school librarian and dreams about buying a house. During a summer when she's spending most of her time creating papier-mâchécharacters to decorate the library, she meets Charlie Blackwell, "someone who found his own flaws endearing and thus concealed nothing," at a backyard barbecue. Charlie is the youngest of four sons of Harold and Priscilla (nicknamed "Maj," short for "Majesty") Blackwell. Harold is a former governor of Wisconsin and unsuccessful candidate for president in 1968, and the family owns a prosperous meatpacking business. Two of Charlie's brothers work alongside him in the business, while one serves in Congress. But, as Charlie puts it, "Being a Blackwell is my full-time job."

At first, Alice --- a registered Democrat with liberal political sympathies --- is put off ("money and Republicans and sausage did not strike me as a particularly tempting combination."). But within six weeks, she and Charlie are engaged, and six weeks later they're married. On the surface it's an unlikely match: Alice is bright, self-aware and witty, an inveterate reader of serious novelists like Bellow and Nabokov, while Charlie prefers to spend his evenings with a beer and pretzels, stretched out on the couch watching a baseball game. The mystery of romantic love is on display here in all its oddity.

Charlie's first foray into electoral politics as a candidate for Congress in 1978 results in a crushing defeat, and he retreats philosophically into the family business and life of a prosperous Milwaukee suburbanite. Ten years later, he's a disgruntled 42-year-old, obsessed (to Alice's annoyance) by his "legacy." An offer to become a part owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and the public face of the team as its managing partner appears it may be enough to relieve his lethargy. But before long, he's spending more of his time in increasingly frequent drinking bouts and behavioral lapses that move Alice to threaten divorce, especially after they attend a disastrous 20th reunion of Charlie's Princeton class. Alice's ultimatum abruptly ends Charlie's drinking, and he undergoes a religious conversion at the hands of an evangelical preacher, Reverend Randy. Soon, he is elected governor of Wisconsin and is on the fast track to the White House. Still, Alice is ambivalent: "I wanted Charlie to win the election," she comments wryly, "but I didn't want him to be president."

The final quarter of the book is set in June 2007. Blackwell, nearing the end of his second term, presides over an unpopular Middle East war, while trying to gain Supreme Court confirmation of a staunchly anti-abortion female judge. Alice, pro-choice and skeptical about the war, must face the contradictions in her public and interior lives --- and she does so in a moving and completely authentic fashion.

The well-known elements of the Bush story all are here, subtly altered to present them in a fresh and original way. But no writer, even one as adept as Curtis Sittenfeld, will ever unearth anything approaching the objective truth of George and Laura Bush's relationship. What she has done, and what elevates this book to the realm of true art, is to create a nuanced portrait of how it feels to be the wife of a major political figure, or indeed any celebrity. Fulfilling Hemingway's definition of a good story, AMERICAN WIFE feels "more true than what really happened." That's the highest compliment one can pay to this thoroughly absorbing novel.

--- Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing - but what is fact and what is fiction? Sept. 9 2009
By Ralph Blumenau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I wish I had not known beforehand (and Sittenfeld's Acknowledgments at the end make it clear) that this book was inspired by biographies of Laura Bush. I knew relatively little about Laura Bush and googled an outline of her life. I found that in her teens she had accidentally killed a boy friend in a car crash, and when this episode appears early in this novel, it reinforced (and was obviously meant to reinforce) the parallel between Alice Lindgren and Laura Bush, even if a note at the beginning says that while Alice's husband and his parents are `recognizable', `all other characters [i.e. including Alice herself] in the novel are products of the author's imagination, as are the incidents concerning them'.

But, in view of the car accident which really did happen, it is hard not to ask oneself exactly what is invented and what is not. For example: did Laura Bush have a wise and lesbian grandmother? Did she have an abortion at the age of 17? Did her marriage nearly break up at one point? And there are some extensively described sexual scenes with three different men, which is not unusual these days in an ordinary novel; but if one associates them with Laura Bush (and can one help that?), they strike a voyeuristic note and are to my mind an impertinence.

The novel occasionally has unnecessarily detailed descriptions of clothes and of furniture, and there are quite a lot of episodes that are not in themselves particularly interesting or contribute to the story line. But the main characters are well developed and the main story line is compelling - so much so that the reservations I have expressed in the previous paragraph gradually faded, and I was truly absorbed to the very end of this very long book.

I know too little about Laura Bush to judge whether Alice is like her. Did Laura come from a Democratic family, was vaguely Democrat herself, but gave that up when she married the Republican George W Bush and became a loyal political wife? One can hardly not have an idea about Bush; so how convincing a likeness is Charlie Blackwell as being modelled on him? I would say `very much so': the boyish charm and grin, the virility, the passion for baseball, the heavy drinking, the political ambition, the family clannishness - they are all there; and when Alice's wise old grandmother comments that Charley's `ambition exceeds his talent', that is true of Bush also. The way Sittenfeld describes the behaviour of the clan to which Charlie belongs is quite brilliantly done, though I did not find Charley's parents as `recognizable' as Sittenfeld claims in her prefatory note: his father (who in the novel had never been President) is not well developed, and his mother, very much the matriarch, is a much more intimidating figure than what I think I know about the strong but rather comfortable Barbara Bush.

Charlie/George W duly becomes a born-again Christian and gives up alcohol. At this point we are five-sixth through the book, and so far most of it has been a prolonged and subtle dissection of the personal relationship between Laura and Charlie. Then it suddenly skips over the next 15 years or so - the years of his state governorship and then his first term as President - straight into his second term (though there will be occasional flash-backs to those intervening years). The focus of Alice's narration now changes, and we have interesting reflections of how an unassuming, relatively unpolitical, straightforward and honest woman has to adjust to being a First Lady - not only what it does to her private life, how she copes with the publicity and with the rat-pack of journalists, but also how, as a loyal wife of the President, she has to suppress her decent instincts in the face of the issues and cynical machinations of her husband's administration. She comes out of this reasonably well, though some people would not think so: there is a magnificent scene in which she is confronted by a 104 year old woman whom she has known in her youth and who taxes her for not speaking out forthrightly on the abortion issue. She loves her husband and has an affectionate understanding for his weaknesses as well as for his attractive qualities, and she is inclined to put much of the blame for his foreign policy onto the domination of Arnold Prouhet (the Dick Cheney figure) over a weaker and shallower personality (and it seems to me that Sittenfeld , too, may have this view of George W Bush). But at the end of the book she wrestles with her conscience: true, she was not the President; true, the American public elected him and not her; but should she not have done more to use her influence, at least to the extent of challenging his policies in private? In the end, in a moving passage, Alice takes a step which I wonder whether Laura Bush ever took.

If Alice is a true character portrait of Laura Bush, it explains why Laura Bush had a much higher popularity rating than her husband.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I Wish I Could Recommend It June 20 2009
By N. Adams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book started out so, so good, but then just degenerated into a bunch of diatribes that felt false, fake and set-up. Ostensibly based on the life of Laura Bush (although in a historical fiction kind of way), I found myself really enjoying the main character - be it the good, bad or whatever. She felt REAL. But then it just fell apart for me. It felt like the author set out to put in anything and everything that could have maybe happened (or had been "reported" to have happened) instead of remaining true to Laura/Alice. Sittenfeld spent the mid part of the book dealing with George's alcohol issue, but mostly in a tabloid kind of way. This is the way the rest of the book went. There was a paragraph that chronicled his rise from Governor to President. A paragraph. And while I realize this was about Laura, surely there could have been a better way to do this. It's a long book. There should have been a better transition, or time spent elsewhere that would have kept this reader's interest instead of dealing with the minutiae into details that, from all accounts, were not a big deal.

The ending was weak and didn't seem in character at all. Again, enjoyed the character development from the beginning, but it just felt like a chore about mid-way through. Not recommended.
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