American Wife – Curtis Sittenfeld

My beloved book club chose American Wife last month, and frankly, I was a little disappointed. It was my first time hearing about Sittenfeld, and after a small investigation, I was sure I wouldn’t like this book. I took a look at the author’s other books, and they seemed like the kind of books that you would find in a nonreader’s home. So I thought I would work hard to finish this thick book and that I would hate myself and my book club for it.


However, despite all my prejudices, when I started the book, I saw that it wasn’t that bad and that it was absorbing. I guess I lowered my expectations a little too much; I read and finished the book in no time.

American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld

American Wife tells the story of George Bush’s wife, Laura Bush. First of all, this book is a novel, not a non-fiction book. Despite this, the portrait of George Bush is very close to the man himself. From a political point of view, the story is accurate. Alice Blackwell is the character based on Laura Bush, and she is our narrator. She is a kind girl, and she becomes a kind lady, but she remains a complicated person with a complicated past. 

The story is quite immersive, leaving you curious and making you turn the pages. It also touches issues like racism, class and wealth. You may also find yourself searching for the young G. Bush and see how sexy he was. (Well I did cause the book kept mentioning how hot he was!) From now on, I’ll remember Laura Bush as a conflicting and polite first lady and George Bush as a… I honestly don’t know. If you are interested in American culture and history, I would recommend this. It is fun, interesting as the couple themselves and, has colourful characters. Enjoy!

About the book: American Wife

In the year 2000, in the closest election in American history, Alice Blackwell’s husband becomes president of the United States. Their time in the White House proves to be heady, tumultuous, and controversial. 

But it is Alice’s own story – that of a kind, bookish, only child born in the 1940s Midwest who comes to inhabit a life of dizzying wealth and power – that is itself remarkable. Alice candidly describes her small-town upbringing, and the tragedy that shaped her identity; she recalls her early adulthood as a librarian, and her surprising courtship with the man who swept her off her feet; she tells of the crisis that almost ended their marriage; and she confides the privileges and difficulties of being first lady, a role that is uniquely cloistered and public, secretive and exposed. 

In Alice Blackwell, Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is not a novel about politics. It is a gorgeously written novel that weaves race, class, fate and wealth into a brilliant tapestry. It is a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable, and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare.


About the author: Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the new novel Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (due out April 2016) as well as the bestselling novels SisterlandAmerican WifePrep, and The Man of My Dreams, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Curtis’s writing has appeared in many publications, including The AtlanticThe New York TimesVanity FairTimeSlateGlamour, and on public radio’s This American Life. A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she currently lives in St. Louis, MO.

American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

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