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American Wife: A Novel

American Wife: A Novel



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Alice Blackwell is a fictional Laura Bush, and this is the "How did a nice girl like you wind up married to a guy like that?" story. I don't know if it's insightful. To know that, I would have to know the First Lady, and I don't. All I can tell you is that I enjoyed the first half of the book very much. The telling of the story of a small town girl who loved to read and didn't find the right guy to marry right out of college was wonderful. Regarding reading, the heroine says, "being a reader was what had made me most myself; it had given me the gifts of curiosity and sympathy, an awareness of the world as an odd and vibrant and contradictory place." Oh - that felt like me.

I loved Alice Blackwell, or at least parts of her, which is all we can ever hope for. I loved her quirky grandmother and tender mother. I love the losses she suffered and the way she accepted being without a husband. I loved her right up until she met and fell in love with the son of a former governor, the George Bush character. I suppose this illustration just proves the point that romantic pairings are never predictable. These two were so wrong for each other, except that they weren't. Like the heroine says, "I could have lived a different life, but I lived this one. And perhaps it is not a coincidence that I married a man who would neither fault me nor even be aware of my failings."

The part of the book that ruined it for me was all of the factual comparisons to the Bush family. There was just too much reality to be fiction, and too much fiction to be reality. I felt like I was reading an unfair biography. There is some content and language I should warn you about, and the awkwardness of the truth mixed with fiction, but on some level I enjoyed it. I give a thumb's up to American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

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