Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Road to the White House

This weekend I sat down with "American Wife" by Curtis Sittenfeld (ISBN 9781400064755). I'll admit I didn't read much about it before making my selection. I liked the title and the cover photo, truth be told.

Sittenfeld, perhaps best known for her debut novel "Prep," here has crafted a portrait of a first lady and her path to the White House.

Alice Blackwell is riveting. The book comes in at more than 500 pages, yet is a quick read (I kid you not). I truly enjoyed the early sections detailing Alice's youth. Alice relates the events of her past from a distance that allows the perspective of age and experience to provide greater context. I wanted to follow her on her unlikely journey to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But the closer she gets to that address, the stronger the similarities between Alice and Charlie Blackwell and Laura and George Bush become. For me that was a distraction. Not because of any political views, but because it was hard to continue to think of them as Alice and Charlie, not as Laura and George.

I did enjoy the novel, though, and will be returning to Sittenfeld's work.

- Tricia Ambrose

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