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In bed with Dubya
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Preview — American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. 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.
How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life?
Review: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld | Books | The Guardian
What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona? 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. Hardcoverpages. Orange Prize Nominee for Fiction Longlist To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about American Wifeplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Sep 14, Chicklit rated it liked it Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To amefican it, click here.
I’m a recent fan of Curtis Sittenfeld. I hadn’t read any of durtis work until I read Prep, but once I finished it, I wanted to read everything she wrote. I was doubly intrigued when I found out that the protagonist of American Wife is a very thinly veiled Americah Bush.
For the most part, I enjoyed Sitttenfeld Wife. The first three sections were so engaging that I never wanted to put the book down. Alice Blackwell is the kind of character you wish were real. I found myself feeling like I were in her kitch I’m a recent fan of Curtis Sittenfeld. I found myself feeling like I were in her kitchen, listening to her stories over a cup of coffee. The Alice Blackwell in these sections is a woman that is wonderfully complex and interesting.
The real magic is that all the hype about the character being modeled after Laura Bush completely disappeared. However, that complexity gets lost in the last section. If there was any doubt that Alice is Laura and that Charlie is George W, it gets thrown out the window immediately as Sittenfeld presents the Blackwells with the same history as the Bushes: At that point, I feel the book lost some of its magic for me.
The americna got much more expository and the story turned heavy handed. I wish the story and its characters had maintained the same complexities it did in its earlier sections.
View all 17 comments. Dec 24, Lucy rated it liked it. Rarely am I so repulsed by a book while still able to honestly say that it wasn’t completely awful. I can’t ignore the fact that Curtis Sittenfeld a woman by the way.
I didn’t look at the picture in the book jacket and had a male author writing this in my head for well over half the book creates one of the most interesting and well-developed characters, Alice Wire, for a novel that I have read in a while.
The creepy part of that is she modeled Alice after Laura Bush, flagrantly so, and I’ Rarely am I so repulsed by a book while still able to honestly curttis that it wasn’t completely awful. The creepy part of that is she modeled Alice after Laura Bush, flagrantly so, and I’m left feeling it’s all unfair somehow.
I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction. I’ve given high praise cuetis authors who seem able to “resurrect” actual historical figures and infuse life into them by placing them in dynamic relationships and creating a voice with conversations. Perhaps the historical figures need to be dead before writing about them, because when Sittenfeld takes the same liberties with Laura Bush, fictionalizing her actual history, I’m left with is disgust at Sittenfeld’s disregard for her privacy, her public position not to mention the actual truth and have a very strong urge to dismiss this book as gossipy garbage.
Sittenfeld must have expected reactions such as mine. From it’s charged release during last year’s Republican National Convention, the book has been criticized by many, mostly Republicans, as being salacious and untrue – two charges Sittenfeld herself agrees with. Doing so didn’t give the book an honest quality but it did manage to make it feel trashy.
She tried hard enough to portray Charlie Blackwell as close to the general media’s version of George W. Bush that the otherwise normal trash becomes a downright disturbing image. I wish I could scrub my brain. But not all of it is tawdry and in poor taste. So full of depth.
After all, are any characters truly “made up? When I finished reading, all I wanted to know was, “How much of this is true? Wive only the major events in each of the book’s four sections accidentally killing a classmate of hers in a car accident during high school, being a librarian and meeting her husband at a BBQ, aemrican a husband who bought a major league baseball team, and being married to the President of the United States are true and everything else is speculation and “what if”s.
I guess that’s fair but it still doesn’t seem like it.
For a book to be written about an actual First Lady, a human being entitled to the same dignity we all deserve and curtid woman who most of America holds in high regard even the author herself admits that she’s fascinated by herand to speculate about private things like her sexuality, her commitment to her husband, an abortion and drug use, and dress it up as fiction to avoid being charged with slander and libel seems cowardly.
The author claims her intention was not to expose Laura Bush but to write what life might be like if you happened to marry a guy who went on to become President of the United States. If she had managed to write that, and leave out her obvious bias for Laura Bush and against President Bush – she might have succeeded in writing something thought provoking and brave. While it may be thought-provoking, it certainly isn’t brave Sittenfeld may have opened my eyes to the price and path of fame, but she did so at the cost of my own respect for her.
View all 18 comments. Oct 04, Liz rated it wittenfeld it Shelves: Boy did my opinions about this book change as I went along. At first I found it more of a pulpy beach read. As it went along, it got into some deeper issues and I found myself thinking about a lot of the issues that Sittenfeld raised. I can appreciate the fate of a woman who would prefer her husband not running americam a political office being forced to go along.
The thoughts and discussions about how much to do, sittenfele to support, etc. But the problem with that is that I could only picture their faces, despite her numerous comments about how good looking Charlie was. I did not want to picture Laura Bush having an orgasm. Yet as time went on, and Charlie rose up the political ladder, I appreciated more what she was dealing with. It also reminded me what a dynamo Barbara Bush was to be so outspoken.
This is really two books. The first half disappointed me. The sittenfele half made me think. But aife raises some intriguing ideas. View all 24 comments. Jul 08, TK rated it did not like it. Plus, I love wedding gowns. But come on — it’s a luscious dress, like a mound of whipped cream sprinkled with sugar.
There must be someth As I said in my comments when I posted this book to my “Currently Reading” list, I’ve “never read Curtis before but an semi-obsessed with novels about First Ladies and First Daughters. There must be something wrong with me, because I did not enjoy this book, and the more I think about it, the less I like it.
I started reading and I was excited, this Alice Cole character was promising, she seemed sincere and real. Even Charlie Blackwell was a likable enough meat-eater, despite his privledged background and carefree arrogance, because we got to know him through Alice’s eyes. I think I began to feel jipped when I realized there wasn’t going to be an elaborate wedding scene in the novel, that Alice was never going to wear the wedding gown or anything nearly like it pictured on the book jacket.
That isn’t to say she doesn’t get married. Ultimately, two things turned me off of this novel. Bush’s relationship, and frankly, I don’t care about them or their relationship. I would have liked this book more had it been about some completely faux, wholly invented presidential marriage. I read this book through to the end, because I had faith that Alice would do something dramatic, she’d do something to win back my respect, that would remind me why I liked her in the first place.
But, ultimately, even her grandest gestures, and her most private, at a potentially pivotal point in her life, brought her right back to the wige quo, to towing the line for her husband’s administration and leadership.