I recently came across American Wife: A Novel at the library. I had heard of this book, but it hadn’t peaked my interest. I knew it was loosely based on the life of Laura Bush and personally, I like Laura Bush. I had the opportunity to meet her at a fundraiser and found her to be intelligent, compassionate, and charming. I didn’t want to read a book that might change my opinion of her!
However, I really like Curtis Sittenfeld’s writing. So I thought I’d give it a try. To my delight, I really enjoyed this book. It paints a picture of “Alice Lindgren” as a very human, very compassionate, sensitive human being.
This book is divided into four sections, named for the addresses at which she lived: one covering when Alice is young and growing up in Wisconsin. One covering when she is an adult working as a children’s librarian and first meets “Charlie Blackwell”, one covering when she is a young wife and mother with her husband still not in politics, and one when she is living at the White House. I definitely liked the part when she is young and growing up best. So much of who she became as a person was shaped from her childhood and the events, some tragic, that occurred then. I also loved reading the section when her daughter was young. However, the ending section of the book, while they were in the White House, bored me. It moved into the first person from the third person narrative (tense changes like that often throw me) and became more of Alice’s thoughts and ruminations on her husband’s work and decisions and reconciling those with her own beliefs.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading novels that cover a person’s life, but I would suggest that you not try to spend too much time wondering what was based in fact from Laura Bush’s life and what wasn’t (or you might interrupt your reading flow). For that, you could pick up a biography!
Cutis Sittenfeld is a great storyteller, so I give this book 4 Stars!
And just a note — we’ve been on vacation without Internet, so I am seriously behind in posting this review! My apologies to my readers!