January 2015 Guest Editor Harriet Evans on American Wife...
Ooh, this book is so good. I’m saving it to reread for when I really need it. It is so absorbing, so sweeping, and yet it is also so intricate and beautifully written. It is a really important book I think and it should have won every prize going. (If it had been written by and about a man I bet it would have). Alice Blackwell is a quiet girl from the Midwest who happens to become First Lady and this is her story and if you haven’t read it, I envy you coming to it for the first time.
Sarah Broadhurt's view...
This is an absolute joy to read. It follows the life of an ordinary American girl, with a teenage tragedy hanging over her, who falls for an ambitious, rich and privileged boy whose sights are on the White House. It is actually based on Laura Bush’s life, I’ve no idea how faithfully for it concentrates on her small-town upbringing by a hardworking mum and a wacky lesbian grandmother. We go right through to the White House, but this is not a political novel, it is a magnificent family drama.
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.
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion Phylippa Smithson of our Lovereading Reader Review Panel was also delighted to share her review with us.'
'My favourite book of the year.' Kate Atkinson
'You don't need to know that its heroine is based on First Lady Laura Bush to be drawn immediately into this quietly riveting parable...Thought-provoking, entertaining and full of subtle reflections on class and marriage' Daily Mail
'A powerful, utterly compelling and strangely moving fictional account of a First Lady who bears more than a passing resemblance to Laura Bush' Daily Mirror
'I was utterly absorbed in this story of a political marriage and a wife who has her own reasons. Curtis Sittenfeld has thrown a powerful light on small town America and its misunderstood values.' Linda Grant, Booker shortlisted author of The Clothes on Their Backs
Publication date: 07/03/2009
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
|Publication date:||7th March 2009|
|Publisher:||Transworld Publishers Ltd|
|Genres:||Reader Reviewed Books, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Literary Fiction,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Curtis Sittenfeld is a graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop where she was taught by Marilynne Robinson. As well as four bestselling novels, Curtis has also written for publications such as The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Guardian, Glamour and Time magazine, where she interviewed Michelle Obama. Author photo © Josephine SittenfeldMore About Curtis Sittenfeld