American Wife

  • by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Narrated by Kimberly Farr
  • 23 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband's presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, "almost in opposition to itself."A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was 17 shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck.So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican Party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes president, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek, one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility.As Charlie's tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?


What the Critics Say

"What a remarkable (and brave) thing: a compassionate, illuminating, and beautifully rendered portrait of a fictional Republican first lady with a life and husband very much like our actual Republican first lady's. Curtis Sittenfeld has written a novel as impressive as it is improbable." (Kurt Andersen)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Mesmerizing and Enchanting!

Wow...what a book. The author weaves an intricate tapestry of characters, plots and history. Not politically offensive.....get the unabridged's about 21 hours, but I found it hard to stop listening. Terrific writing. Worth the money/credit. I'm a new fan for sure!
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- Summer

Not Believable

Politics aside, the author does not make a convincing portrait of the character of the president. I found it inconceivable that the shallow buffoon depicted in Parts 1 and 2 would eventually occupy the White House, and the transition of his persona was not handled in a very convincing manner. From an internal narrative viewpoint, and from a character-development viewpoint the transition from privileged dilettante to world leader just seemed improbable.

I don't quite know why the wife needed to be cast as coming from a very middle class background - this made her part in the entire marriage look like a sellout. Of course she wouldn't leave her hard-drinking wealthy husband and all the perks of a high-end life. She runs away back to humble city, comes to her senses, suddenly and coincidentally her husband gets religion and is instantly sober! Vwalah, problem solved.

I kept wondering what the story would look like if the wife had more of a life of her own, was more of a player. As it is she just piggybacks on her husband's money and keeps her real opinions and beliefs to herself.

I did think the story was well-written, if a bit predictable in the beginning, but the book left me wondering as to the need for such a close approximation to real characters in real situations. Perhaps the dynamic would have been more interesting if the characters had been invented instead of derived from reality.

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- Pamela Harvey "glam"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-16-2008
  • Publisher: Books on Tape