- Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (Feb. 10 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812975405
- ISBN-13: 978-0812975406
- Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.1 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 431 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #81,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
American Wife: A Novel Paperback – Feb 10 2009
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“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.”
“The novel, Sittenfeld’s most fully realized yet, artfully evokes the painful reverberations of the past.”
“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”
“A masterful highbrow-lowbrow mash-up that satisfies as ass-kicking literary fiction
and juicy gossip simultaneously.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“This searing page-turner will make you wonder what unspoken promises lie behind the victory smiles of any power couple.”
“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.”
“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
“Terrific . . . an intelligent, bighearted novel about a controversial political dynasty.”
“Remarkable . . . American Wife is about the long history of a marriage, and . . . the way we make decisions when we’re young that have consequences we couldn’t have anticipated. . . . Sittenfeld’s most ambitious and impressive work to date.”
About the Author
Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of The Man of My Dreams and Prep, which was chosen by The New York Times as one of the Ten Best Books of 2005. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Salon, Allure, Glamour, and on public radio’s This American Life. Her books are being translated into twenty-five languages. www.curtissittenfeld.com
From the Hardcover edition.
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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.
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.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I have to say I often found this book uncomfortable to read. Mainly because I found myself relating to the character of Alice quite a lot. So even when she was making decisions that I wouldn't necessarily have made, I understood them. Needless to say this was rather jarring for a dyed-in-the-wool liberal to find herself relating to a character's decision to marry the literary incarnation of GWB. Toward the end of book, which details their years in the White House, I found Alice's ruminations on fame to be a little tedious. I only need to be told so many times how few people you can really trust and how people think they own you because you are famous. I got it. Otherwise, I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who's willing to accept that people with other political views are just people and not the actual devil.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have found in the past that I have read a book from an author, and if I really liked it then read their other books, but the subsequent books don't have the same impact as the first. I loved Prep and really liked Man Of My Dreams. What I didn't expect is that American Wife would end up being my favorite Curtis Sittenfeld read.
The author is truly gifted and her turn of phrase is delightful. I tend to read rather quickly but with her books, I like to slow down and really take in each line. Early in this book the main character described her mother as a "purveyor of sweet simple gestures" and that line just touched me. Gosh, I want to be that. I want my daughter to think of me in that way.
I will buy every book Curtis Sittenfeld writes!
Along with Prep, this is another of Sittenfeld's books I would highly recommend.