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I m a recent fan of Curtis Sittenfeld I hadn t read any of her 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 Laura Bush.For the most part, I enjoyed American 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 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 the controversial 2000 election, the terrorist attacks, the failed war, even a grieving father that protests the war by camping outside the White House At that point, I feel the book lost some of its magic for me The prose got much 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. The first 439 pages of this novel merit 5 stars Alas When our American wife makes it to the White House, the story falls flat on its face.Anyway, this is the engrossing and somewhat trashy tale of Alice Lindgren Blackwell, future first lady Growing up in a small Wisconsin town, Alice has a good life She is an only child who lives with her mother, father, and grandmother Her father has a job at the bank, her mother is the perfect housewife, and her grandmother is an eccentric intellectual Alice is beautiful and bookish, and as sweet as can be.But things change when Alice is in a car accident, an accident in which she is responsible for the death of a classmate This is where her life takes a sordid turn I won t give away the rest of the plot Everyone knows that this story was loosely based on that of Laura Bush It s fun to keep that in mind while reading, particularly when she meets her future husband, Charlie Blackwell.Alice is very likable, and you cannot help but to become involved in her story The plot is quite engaging and only becomes stale when she actually moves into the White House. Boy did my opinions about this book change as I went along At first I found it 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 for a political office being forced to go along The thoughts and discussions about how much to do, what to support, etc rang very true As did Charlie s comments about having to be constantly on guard, even with friends, about ulterior motives It s not giving away any secrets to say that Sittenfeld s inspiration for Alice and Charlie were Laura and George W Bush But the problem with that is that I could only picture their faces, despite her numerous comments about how good looking Charlie was I was never a fan of GWB, but I always felt Laura was a true lady So, reading the sex scenes with Laura s face for Alice was akin to learning as a child that your parents have sex I did not want to picture Laura Bush having an orgasm I also found it unfair, if that s the right word, to base your characters on real people but then say 95% of the book is fiction Initially, I didn t really find Alice an engaging character I m pretty opinionated, so I had a struggle in accepting someone so willing to sublimate her own beliefs for love Yet as time went on, and Charlie rose up the political ladder, I appreciated what she was dealing with It also reminded me what a dynamo Barbara Bush was to be so outspoken Final answer This is really two books The first half disappointed me The second half made me think I didn t love it, I didn t really like it all that much But it raises some intriguing ideas. 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 Plus, I love wedding gowns That s right, I was suckered in by the wedding gown But come on it s a luscious dress, like a mound of whipped cream sprinkled with sugar And truly, when I had a chance to read the ARE, I couldn t say no, since I have heard only good things about Curtis s stuff.There must be something wrong with me, because I did not enjoy this book, and the 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., who loved him despite herself.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 First, I realized I was reading a highly fictionalized account of Laura and George W Bush s relationship, and frankly, I don t care about them or their relationship I would have liked this book 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 status quo, to towing the line for her husband s administration and leadership Her self relfection and explanations were thin, and to me sounded like justifications Ultimately, I didn t like Alice Blackwell, the American Wife, and resented Curtis for having talked me into spending so much time with her 550 pages worth.I m sorry Clearly, I m not the right reader for this book. Wow One of the best books I ve read this year.Just forget what you might have heard about this book being a mirror of the life of Laura Bush it is, but , it s really about the life of one woman, and purely on its own merits as a novel, it s moving, thoughtful and wonderfully wrought The author gives Alice and Charlie complexity, hopes and fears and lives, even if their lives in the White House and before and after aren t like ours She empathetically details the burdens and isolation of being famous, the doubts and regrets people carry with them through their lives, and the challenges that married couples face over the years Sweeping and at the same time intensely personal, American Wife explores the most intimate parts of Alice s life and marriage with a piercing realism that captures the height and depth of emotions without ever straying into melodrama.It s one of those rare books that when you have to put it down for a while, you wonder what the characters are doing while you re gone And when you put it down for good, it s like saying farewell to a dear friend. This book is a fabulous read and as far as I can gather, inspired by a sentiment I can understand well Fascination with Laura Bush I certainly don t share enough fascination to have written a novel about her, but even from my own experience of meeting her VERY briefly, she is incredibly NICE So the premise grabbed my attention.In the novel, this Laura esque character is a bit of a contradiction a true free thinker and yet an obedient wife and first lady At times it is hard to square, but I ll give Curtis Sittenfeld a break on this one, because I really love the character nonetheless And she even does a quite generous job with the George esque character, finding a narrative that makes him both a dufus and intensely charming to the point that we can almost understand how he might manage to win the presidency. |Book ♗ American Wife ☨ On What Might Become One Of The Most Significant Days In Her Husband S Presidency, Alice Blackwell Considers The Strange And Unlikely Path That Has Led Her To The White House And The Repercussions Of A Life Lived, As She Puts It,almost In Opposition To Itself A Kind, Bookish Only Child Born In The S, Alice Learned The Virtues Of Politeness Early On From Her Stolid Parents And Small Wisconsin Hometown 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 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 CharlieAs 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 As Charlie S Tumultuous And Controversial Second Term In The White House Wears On, Alice Must Face Contradictions Years In The Making How Can She Both Love And Fundamentally Disagree With Her Husband How Complicit Has She Been In The Trajectory Of Her Own Life What Should She Do When Her Private Beliefs Run Against Her Public Persona In Alice Blackwell, New York Times Bestselling Author Curtis Sittenfeld Has Created Her Most Dynamic And Complex Heroine Yet 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 BareAudiobook Download Time I will have to go for two stars on this one This biographical fictional tale of Laura Bush started out five stars, but finally fell flat in the last third of the book I struggled to finish.I also feel uncomfortable with the repulsive, salacious details provided, although the author claimed that 95% of the book is fiction Huh W.w.w.w.what C.c.c.c.come again Building a story around a president of the USA and his wife, surely demands some respect for privacy, truth, facts, if it is so blatantly based on real people, right Was this exploitation for sales I think so For this reason it deserves the lowest rating possible Aren t we all a bit tired of media exploitation The past election coverage in America is a text book example of it One of millions Why should facts interfere with a good story, yes I am not even American, but even I felt terrorized and traumatized in the aftermath This book is no exception.However, the first three hundred or so pages of the book, the detailed descriptions of Milwaukee and surroundings the lives of Alice as a young teenager and young adult, the colorful social set up, and the historical background was really well done The information dumping to fill up too many pages, losing the tension, was not There s moments of tragedy and brighter moments of happiness, good and less good people making up the adjectives The realism so well used I felt present, part of the families, a good, loyal friend of Alice s Entrenched Involved Despite an effort to vilify Charles George Bush as a hard drinking, lazy misfit truth or fiction never mind, I still liked the character, the people lover, the social animal I don t know George Bush from Adam, but Charles was a gentle, tough, good man Alice Laura Bush started out as a strong protagonist, but ended up a pathetic whiner claiming noble victim status, trying very hard to be a heroine, but alas, did not make it my opinion Remarkable, maybe.I should have stopped reading before they arrived in the White House, and just ignored the gory details of the fiction surrounding them How do we distinguish between facts and fiction The ending where is it Two forced stars Sorry One of us in this experience was lying, and it s not going to be me It is about principles. I loved Curtis Sittenfeld s debut novel, Prep And while I wasn t thrilled when I discovered that the main character of this book was based upon Laura Bush, I remembered how brilliantly Ms Sittenfeld crafted the coming of age story of her young protagonist in Prep I suspected that her treatment of Laura Bush masquerading as Alice Lindgren Blackwell would be equally engaging For the greater part of the book, I was not disappointed An American Wife proved to be a refreshingly modern rendition of a classic American coming of age However, the book s final chapter proved to be a bit of a let down It seems that the author lost her focus after the main characters moved into the white house I could barely endure the main character s laundry list of complaints and regrets about her role as first lady It was distracting and it almost ruined a perfectly lovely book. I m surprised, but so far I really like this The main character is very compelling and I love the grandmother More soon 9 30 The first chapters are definitely the best, and my biggest problem with this novel is all the TELLING instead of SHOWING There was so much rumination, explanation, summary, etc that it started driving me crazy, and the last 150 pages were tough to get through It needed scenes, action, dialogue Also, how did the fairly interesting young Alice become this country club Junior League person Alice gets really dull, and we don t really see understand her transformation b c of the time shifts between sections.It was creepy to have to imagine George W Bush having sex, too, for sure That was another problem I was always thinking about the real life characters, and so it s hard for me to respond to American Wife as a novel I wonder if this would be a better book if it were completely fictional The grandmother was still my favorite character And maybe Snowflake.