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American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld: A Review

Updated on June 24, 2010

*Warning: this review contains some minor spoilers of general themes.*

This is not the type of book I would ordinarily read. I have little interest in politics, much less a work of fiction based on the former first lady, Laura Bush. However, a fellow blogger raved about American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. on her blog, so I decided to check it out for myself.

Straight off, this book made me a little uncomfortable. It can be very explicit (in my opinion) for a story which supposedly has a basis in reality. I'm not sure how I would feel if I was Laura Bush -- I'm a little mortified for her! That said, I really enjoyed the first two sections of the story, which describe main character Alice's youth, early adulthood, and her courtship by and marriage to Charlie. The characters engaged me, and I enjoyed Alice's perspective and the rich detail with which the settings, action, and relationships are revealed.

Unfortunately, the last section of the book, detailing the Blackwells' two-term stint in the White House, fizzled for me big time. In between engaging pieces of action and forward plot motion, Alice monologues at great length about similar (and sometimes identical) topics. After 400+ pages, I'm pretty familiar with what she's thinking and don't need the be flat-out told. Plus, the book ends on a rather dour note, with Alice wondering if she hasn't betrayed her husband after all.

This left me thinking -- what exactly is the "moral" of the story (for lack of a better term -- perhaps "What is the point?" is a more accurate question) that author Sittenfeld is trying to communicate? That Alice regrets her entire life and marriage? That she sold out? I'm not sure, and that fact left me with a sour taste in my mouth despite the very well-written first 75% of this novel.

Your Thoughts

Have you read Curtis Sittenfeld's novel American Wife? What did you think?

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    • betherann profile image

      Beth Morey 7 years ago from Montana

      I actually do, techygran, but it doesn't seem to read it! Do you have any troubleshooting tips? :/

      Thanks for the positive comment!

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      I enjoyed your review... you have a great way with words. After reading your review I just knew that I would be bored to distraction with a 400-page book with no point.

      I just finished another hub of yours and wondered why you don't have any Adsense on the 2 hubs? Just curious. All the best!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for this review.

    • profile image

      coffeesnob 7 years ago

      interesting. I am with you I don't think it is one I would choose to read