[Book review] American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld

300 americanwife
300 americanwife

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American Wife makes for a riveting read. But, here lies the catch – it is a 600 page saga spanning fifty years, based loosely on the American power couple that everyone loves to hate – George and Laura Bush. I must therefore admit that while I am partial to such sweeping sagas, American Wife is not for everyone.

Alice Lindgren is a kindergarten teacher living a staid life in 1970s Wisconsin. Of course, this is barring the fact that she inadvertently killed her boyfriend in a car accident at the tender age of seventeen. (Reminiscent of Laura Bush’s tragic past, anyone?) Alice then marries Charlie Blackwell who eventually becomes – you guessed it – the President of USA and, not unlike Bush, one of the most despised men in the world.

American Wife chronicles Alice’s transition from first-grade teacher to first lady. The story drags out in some places, and at times, you might feel as if you are reading an autobiography penned by Laura Bush herself. One thing is for certain though – the novel offers a veritable cocktail of entertainment, scandal, secrets, betrayal and romance. There is even a spunky lesbian grandmother thrown into the mix!

To reiterate, this book is not for everyone, especially not those who are looking for a light read to provide relief from thick textbooks. But if you want an absorbing story – and enjoy the feel of a book which is hefty to hold – then American Wife should be your pick!