Wednesday, September 24, 2008

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld (a review)

3.5 out of 5: American Wife is the story of Alice Blackwell, a small-town girl who eventually becomes the President’s wife. Although Laura Bush’s life is the inspiration behind American Wife, in an interview for the Washington Post Book World podcast, Sittenfeld emphasized that 85% of the book is fiction. The result is a curious amalgamation of fact and fiction.

Sittenfeld’s prose is enormously chatty and stuffed full of everyday details, including such trivialities as an exhaustive description of the layout of the Blackwell’s country club and Alice’s conversation with her realtor about her counteroffer to the seller (Should Alice counter with $37K or 32K? Should Alice give the seller 24 hours to respond to the counteroffer or 48?). Alice’s talkative first-person voice is initially annoying but eventually quite appealing. Over the course of 500+ pages, all the inconsequential details coalesce into a wonderfully sensitive and convincing portrayal of Alice and her husband, both as individuals and in relation to each other. American Wife is tedious at times but ultimately satisfying.

1 comment:

S. Krishna said...

Hmm, I'm not sure whether your review makes me want to read the book more or less! Great review though!