Thursday, April 23, 2009

American Wife

I've been wanting to read American Wife ever since it was released. I've read both of Curtis Sittenfeld's other two books and liked them, and I as sure I would like this one I as well. All I've really been waiting for was it to be released in paperback, and as soon as I saw it out, it was on.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
I didn't really know anything about Laura Bush before I read this, and I don't necessarily now either. Before I was really just limited to snippets I'd read in Glamour and Cosmo about how she was an advocate for heart disease in women and maybe about writing a children's book with one of her daughters. But besides that I never really cared to learn more. Mainly because I'm not a big George Bush fan, and I've always just associated her as an extension of him.

What's interesting about American Wife is it creates a voice for her. Or at least a character that might be something like her. But we have no idea how truthful that voice is. Sure, parts of the book are based on fact, some quite obviously so, but most of the time you can't be sure what's true. It's far easier to decide what scenes are entirely made-up, but even so you something similar could always have happened. If you do have the desire to separate more of the fact from fiction in the notes after the book, the author lists the main biographies she used. And while I think it would be interesting to read them, and don't see myself doing it.

The one small thing I would have liked to have, is for Alice (Laura's character in American Wife) to have had twins daughters instead of one. I get how much easier it is to only flesh out one daughter, but it would have been interesting to what raising actual twins might have been like for her. (And yes, that is partly my fascination with multiple births talking here.) Also, if Charlie Blacwell's father had been President as well instead of just Governor.

Its funny most of the book I would forget who these characters were supposed to be, and it felt like I was just reading a story about Alice and Charlie. But there were times I would actually make myself think about who I was supposed to be reading about. But the Bushes didn't really seem to fit in the image I'd created for myself.

Overall, I did enjoy it. It did have the same feel as all of the author's other books. Partly do to the way it was narrated and partly due to the way it was organized. I did enjoy all three of her books, but if I was going to recommend only book by Curtis Sittenfeld this wouldn't be it. I did enjoy this more than The Man of My Dreams, but it doesn't come close to Prep. I think a lot of that is that while I wouldn't have wanted to go to a boarding school, I do like imagining it. Also I think, if I had gone to a boarding school, my experience would have been very similar to what happened in Prep.


P.S. Grey's is finally back on tonight! And Meredith and Derek are now engaged! How exciting!


  1. Very interesting review on American Wife. I honestly didn't know there was a book written about her...All I knew about Laura Bush was her and her daughter created children's books.

    Unfortunately, I don't watch Grey's Anatomy as much as I would like to :*( I know my sister enjoys the show very much.

  2. After reading this I became very interested in Laura Bush. I checked out "The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush" by Ann Gerhart which is one of the books Curtis Sittenfeld used to write American Wife. There are SEVERAL similarities between Alice and Laura, it's kind of crazy. Either way, it made me really really admire who Laura Bush was and everything she stood for.
    I checked out The Man of My Dreams but haven't read it yet, I might just end up buying all three books because I see Curtis Sittenfeld quickly becoming one of my favorite authors...

  3. Hmm, I'll have to check out that book!

    I'm really not feeling Grey's anymore. I'm way more into DH and Brothers and Sisters now!

  4. I'd heard about this book but hadn't read any reviews... thanks for this!

  5. Thanks for the post on my blog and I loved your critique of the book, I was wondering if I should give it a shot or not. I'm also not a huge George Bush fan so I wasn't sure if I'd be icked-out by the fact that it's about Laura. Your insight definitely helped :-)