Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife (2008)

Yet another book that Rebecca enticed me to read (it’s all her fault! 😉 ). Yet another book I’m reviewing waaaay too late. We’ve already started the Advent countdown, and yet thinking about this book reminds me of lying on a deckchair in the sun in front of our little rental house in the woods. In a way I’m sorry not to have written about this book earlier, but in another way I’m just grateful I have those nice summery memories attached to it.

So, on to the book itself. In short, I loved it, and I was so surprised to fall for it. Of all readers, isn’t it crazy that I (a European reader for whom many democrat ideas don’t go far enough) have been so engrossed with a book about the life of the previous Republican First Lady of the United States?

Perhaps that’s what Curtis Sittenfeld had in mind: take the person that a lot of people have despised or hated for being married to the guy that once was the most hated one on the planet, and make her loveable, or at least relatable.

(Of course there’s no mention of George W. Bush, but everybody starting this book is somehow forewarned, this American wife is not your average housewife) Alice Lindgren is sooo relatable, so real, and her choices, at the moment she makes them, make perfect sense. Yet there’s nothing obvious in her life course, from being a shy, bookish, rather conventional Midwestern middle class girl to getting married to a super-rich, spoilt, good-time Charlie who ends up as the president of the United States.

How much of her thoughts and acts are real or fictional or loosely inspired by reality is beside the point for me, especially as we move further away from the Bush presidency (that it was an issue for Mrs. Bush or Republicans makes little doubt… how weird a choice for Sittenfeld to write a fiction where the inspiration is so obvious and so recent… I can’t imagine anything like that based on Michelle Obama). I read it as an analysis of characters and of a marriage, full of complexity and compromises. It worked very well as such and I couldn’t put it down.


5 thoughts on “Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife (2008)

  1. Well waiting so long to write about the book let you have a little mental vacation back to the time you did read it which sounds just lovely. And isn’t fun when you can blame someone else for why you bought/read a book?

  2. I have to put this on my list for books I intend to read over Christmas and then make sure that I get round to it. I read her most recent book, ‘Sisterland’, during the summer and thought it was excellent. Having found a ‘new’ writer there is absolutely no excuse for not indulging myself in everything she has written, other than the fact that there simply aren’t enough reading hours in the day.

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