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American Wife is Curtis Sittenfeld's third book. The first was Prep. I read Prep, didn't love it but understood the appeal. When American Wife hit the stands, with great reviews, I didn't bite. A few people recommended the book to me who generally like the same books as I do, so I caved and picked up the paperback to read.
American Wife is supposedly about the life and choices of Laura Bush written through her eyes and thoughts. It is a work of fiction loosely based on her. You can't help but have both George and Laura in your head as you read the story. Who knows if this is a realistic portrayal or not but Sittenfeld definitely did her research. Alice, the character who is Laura, came from a middle class family who were Democrats. She was a teacher. She had a gay Grandmother, she had an abortion and she had a tragic accident killing a high school boy she adored. This what you learn about the character in the book.
The book is broken into four parts. Her youth, her teaching years, the early years of their
marriage where George drinks up a storm ( get some insight into the born again route), and the Presidency. I enjoyed the first half the most and the Presidency the least. Laura seems to love her husband above all regardless of what a lout he is. There were some great lines that I will share.
This particular one is from Alice's Grandmother who was one of my favorite characters in the book. This iis in regards to George. His ambitions exceed his talent. Well, doesn't that say it all?
The other line is from Alice's Grandmother's lover, who is also the doctor that performed the abortion on Alice. She speaks to Alice in a way that nobody does anymore because she is the first lady. The doctor wants to go public with Alice's abortion but is trying to force Alice to do it herself. She says to Alice in regards to a possible confirmation of a Supreme Court judge who would help turnover Roe vs Wade, "You have the power to change history, and you don't care. Reproductive rights don't strike your fancy? Well, how about gay marriage? I can think of at least one reason that ought to be close to your heart. How about the environment, how about civil liberties, how about this godforsaken war, or do the two of you plan to sit there with your blinders on until he's out of office and his successor can clean up the mess?
A really well written and hopefully well researched book. An interesting light into the world of the last first lady.