Book Review: American Wife

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Commuting with “Laura”

American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld

Lizzie Rating: A

I positively inhaled Sittenfeld’s debut, Prep, when it came out my freshman year of college. Her storytelling is compelling and her characters rich. When American Wife came out a few years later I thought it was odd and disappointing that Sittenfeld decided to write a novel based on the life of Laura Bush. I mean, can you get more milquetoast than Laura Bush? As we were unpacking our books I noticed Kat owned a copy. She encouraged me to pick it up, confident I would enjoy it.

This is really weird to admit but I sort of have a soft spot for “Laura Bush” (represented as the main character, Alice Lindgren) now. Who knew? The book is very loosely based on her life. Divided into four sections that stretch from Alice Lindgren’s childhood in a small Wisconsin town to her husband’s term in the White House, the plot revolves around major turning points in Laura’s life and the rest is completely fictionalized. The result is surprisingly gripping. Alice is complex, torn between her personal convictions and extreme loyalty to her husband. She struggles to find a place in her husband’s rich and well connected family but not in a way that makes you pity her. Her strong sense of self make her sympathetic, even relateable. I recommend it as a great commute read or holiday escape.

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