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Customer Reviews for

American Wife

Average Rating 3.5
( 229 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(63)

4 Star

(76)

3 Star

(46)

2 Star

(19)

1 Star

(25)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Torn about this one...

While I gave the book 4 stars, I am still perplexed in how I should feel about it. If it were just a story, completely made up, not about a recent First Lady, I would say that I really enjoyed the book. But because I know this book is loosely based on the life of Laura ...
While I gave the book 4 stars, I am still perplexed in how I should feel about it. If it were just a story, completely made up, not about a recent First Lady, I would say that I really enjoyed the book. But because I know this book is loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, I felt like I was trespassing into her life, without actually really knowing the facts. This is not "historical fiction" in the same way a retelling of the life of say, Anne Boleyn is, where Anne is still the main character. Alice is not Laura, and yet she is. I almost feel like I should now go read something about Laura Bush to separate the fact from fiction. I don't want the decisions or actions that Alice took in the book to reflect how my opinion on Laura Bush is formed, as I don't know really what is true and what is not. I know the big things, but when it comes to the intimate details, how can I judge? I think this is a tricky thing to write. I don't think this book is not worth reading, I think it is, I am just wary about how this reflects on the former First Lady and I am hoping that peoples opinions of her are not characterized by this book. Even though it IS fiction, that does not mean it is not powerful in what it is portraying. A good read still.

posted by blue2280 on June 18, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

Cheap Shot!

After reading less than 100 pages of this so-called work of fiction I have no desire to finish it. What a cheap shot this author takes at Laura Bush. I find the book disrespectful and uncalled for. The author has taken the liberty of adding a disclaimer at the beginning...
After reading less than 100 pages of this so-called work of fiction I have no desire to finish it. What a cheap shot this author takes at Laura Bush. I find the book disrespectful and uncalled for. The author has taken the liberty of adding a disclaimer at the beginning of the book as if the disclaimer makes this insulting and disgustingly sexually explicit book acceptable... not in my book. If you want to write fiction, then write fiction, but to add such a trashy element to a story that so closely mirrors the life of a former first lady is unacceptable.

posted by 1595797 on July 14, 2009

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  • Posted June 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Torn about this one...

    While I gave the book 4 stars, I am still perplexed in how I should feel about it. If it were just a story, completely made up, not about a recent First Lady, I would say that I really enjoyed the book. But because I know this book is loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, I felt like I was trespassing into her life, without actually really knowing the facts. This is not "historical fiction" in the same way a retelling of the life of say, Anne Boleyn is, where Anne is still the main character. Alice is not Laura, and yet she is. I almost feel like I should now go read something about Laura Bush to separate the fact from fiction. I don't want the decisions or actions that Alice took in the book to reflect how my opinion on Laura Bush is formed, as I don't know really what is true and what is not. I know the big things, but when it comes to the intimate details, how can I judge? I think this is a tricky thing to write. I don't think this book is not worth reading, I think it is, I am just wary about how this reflects on the former First Lady and I am hoping that peoples opinions of her are not characterized by this book. Even though it IS fiction, that does not mean it is not powerful in what it is portraying. A good read still.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    American Wife is a Must Read

    American Wife is a story of the other side; the woman behind the man, living a life into which she was not elected.

    Curtis Sittenfeld develops a simple character: a young, single woman (Alice) with a great family and friends, but who has a hidden secret (don't we all). Through a fairy-tale, whirlwind romance, she marries her seeming soul mate, a man with a prominent family history, yet he is always searching for ways to make his name.

    Comfortable in her own skin, Alice is unsure of the new life into which she's entered. But she emerges strong. A great book club read!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2008

    Better Than Expected!

    I was hesitant to read American Wife, as I really had not liked Prep, by the same author. But, after an invitation to a book group with this as the selection, I decided to try it. I am glad I did. It is virtually impossible to separate this fictional story from the Bush administration, as recommended by some reviewers, but either way - the writing is terrific and the journey on which you are taken is great. The weakest section comes towards the end with The White House Years, but until then, it is a real page turner with your wanting to follow the story of this young, smart woman and her improbable rise from small town girl to First Lady.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    A Page Turner!

    "American Wife" is a sympathetic and fascinating examination of Laura Welch Bush's life. Yes, it IS a novel, not a biography, but it appears Sittenfeld researched Laura's life well. There are enough facts to make it believable without feeling like the writer is taking artistic license and completely misrepresenting this woman.

    Being from Texas and around the same age, I've always been curious about Laura Welch Bush. I knew she was a socially left-leaning Democrat early on, a well-read, intelligent woman, a librarian who loved children. For me, the woman she became as First Lady never reconciled with her younger self. There was always something askew and disturbing seeing her staring blankly and lovingly up at her husband. I always felt there was another woman inside who was silently screaming.

    For me, the book explained a lot. Sittenfeld obviously feels respect and affection for LB. Her characterization of George W Bush, his parents, siblings and those around him (Karl Rove, Cheney, et al.) are not especially kind but are believable and seem realistic. This is not a slanderous book, however, it would be interesting to hear what Laura Bush or her daughters think of "American Wife", if they read it (and how could they not?).

    My only quibble with the writing is that Sittenfeld meanders off subject too much. She is prone to asides that take you away from the present scene and by the time she gets back to the original story, you are scratching your head thinking, what was the point of that? Her tendency for asides got tiresome toward the end and made the book slightly too long. The book could have used a good final edit, thereby improving this sharply written, face-paced, fascinating read. Would be a great book club book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting and good read.

    I did not realize when I purchased this book that it was loosly based on the life of Barbara Bush. I'm not sure I would have purchased it if I had known that fact. However, I am glad that I did read the book because I found that the book kept my attention and was worth reading. I enjoyed it. I found some parts more interesting than others, but all in all I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Barbara Bush or not. As noted, it is only loosly based on her, and for the most part is pure fiction. It is interesting how the author combined the fiction with the fact.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2008

    Redeemable Fiction. Redeemable Reality?

    I eagerly anticipated reading American Wife and I can say that I truly found it worthy of my time. I was drawn into the story from the beginning, and I found myself unable to stop because I wanted to know what happened next. It is made very clear by Ms. Sittenfeld that her novel was related to the life of Laura Bush. However, I found the characters in the novel to be more real and more believable than the Bush family. Perhaps it is due to the fact that in the case of Charlie and Alice Blackwell, we get to have an inside look at their lives, personalities, history, and motivations. As American citizens we are not afforded such a luxury concerning the First Family. I found Mrs. Blackwell to be redeemable character because I felt that there was acknowledgment of and repentance for the wrong doings created by the Blackwell presidency and her ¿Stepford Wife¿ personality. I sincerely hope the same can be said for Mrs. Bush.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Page 433

    If this book were not supposed to be about Laura Bush, the first 432 pages would be thought by many to be incredibly boring. Were they about Mary Jones of Fresno I doubt most readers would get to page 433. That's where we enter the White House years, and, although they are mostly Curtis Sittenfeld's version of them, the book finally comes alive, and Alice Blackwell becomes someone worth reading about. Hopefully Laura Bush bears some resemblance to Alice Blackwell.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2008

    Imagined Reality

    When I first heard that Curtis Sittenfeld was releasing a new novel loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, I'll admit that I was a bit put off. I'm a lifelong liberal, so reading a book about the private life of President Bush and his family was not at the top of my to-do list. Still, I had enjoyed Prep and Man of my Dreams so I figured I'd give American Wife a shot. Once I started reading, I could not put it down. I was completely drawn into the world of Alice Blackwell and every few pages I found myself wondering how closely her life follows that of our First Lady. The story is divided into four parts, each at a different address and, in a sense, each encompassing a different version of Alice: a teenager in a small town where in an instant, a tragic accident destroys her imagined future a public school librarian caught up in a whirlwind romance with the charming and lovable Charlie Blackwell a wife whose marriage is on the brink of falling apart the First Lady of the United States realizing that the darkest secret of her past might finally have caught up with her. Another aspect of the story is the love Alice has for Charlie. Despite his personal flaws and political decisions she does not agree with, the fact remains that Charlie is her husband and Alice truly loves him. While not necessarily portraying the President Bush character in a positive way, Sittenfeld certainly doesn't paint him as an incompetent, warmongering monster. With just enough fact woven into the fiction, American Wife is sure to have everyone speculating about where the truth ends and the story begins - a definite must read this fall.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    There are few things I love more than a fantastic historical fic

    There are few things I love more than a fantastic historical fiction novel based on a political figure and this book hit the nail on the head. Based on the life of Laura Bush, American Wife follows Alice Blackwell from her small town roots in the midwest to her life as First Lady and it is fantastic. Whether she’s describing the beauty of the midwest or the emotional guilt following a fatal accident, Sittenfeld excels at putting the reader in the front row for a spectacular show.




    When I first started this book, I thought I would be going to Google after every other page to chec whether something was fact or fiction, but this was not the case. Despite being a longer book (over 550 pages), I was so absorbed and in the story that I completely forgot to fact check (one might argue that this was also a big part of this particular presidency, but that’s another topic for another time). Plus, I’m a political junkie, so I already had a good grasp of major events that were based on real life.  Some of these included the President buying a sports team, coming from a political family, having a failed congressional run, and the Iraq war.  As for Mrs. Blackwell, she (like Laura Bush) was raised in the midwest, worked as a librarian, and was, of course, a big reader.




    There were a few things that tied so well into the story but that I’m guessing were the fictional parts of the book. For example, Mrs. Blackwell was raised in an extremely liberal household and remained true (if not quietly) to her beliefs. The author also took some liberties in building a relationship between Mrs. Blackwell and the boy she killed. I have to assume that all of the parts of the book that had to do with Mrs. Blackwell’s sexual exploits and crises of faith are also fictional. The book is so well written and rooted in fact that I’m left wondering where her storyline fillers came from!




    If you’re a fan of historical fiction or politics, then this is definitely a book that you will enjoy. Don’t let its length scare you off – I’ve read far shorter books that took much longer to read! As for me, I think I’ll read Laura Bush’s memoir soon so that I can draw more parallels between the two! In the meantime, I will share with you my favorite quote from the whole book (on her crisis of faith):




    “Perhaps it is my avid reading that has been my faith.” (p. 494)

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  • Posted November 16, 2012

    Well written, not a thrilling book, but a moving one.

    Well written, not a thrilling book, but a moving one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    Wonderfull

    Rich and truly engaging.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    Really enjoyed

    Captivating.

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  • Posted April 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Fun & Interesting Read

    I really enjoyed this book. When I started reading it, I had no idea that it was loosely based on Laura Bush. Once I realized this, I enjoyed it even more. It actually gave me a level of respect for a woman I really knew little about. Once I finished the book, I Googled the former first lady to determine which parts were known to be accurate. Obviously the author took a lot of creative license, but even those portions of the book where well thought out and helped to paint the picture of a very interesting character.

    I admired the journey of Alice's relationship with her husband. It shows how two people with different backgrounds and beliefs can still come together and find happiness. It also showed a couple working through the ups and downs of a marriage.

    One point that the author made very well was how, despite the public's contrary belief, the First Lady has little ability to impact the direction of the President and other decision makers. It gave me an appreciation for all that they do behind the scenes to support their spouse and their own commitments.

    I look forward to reading other books by this author.

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  • Posted April 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    It was such a different type of heartfelt story, I advise readin

    It was such a different type of heartfelt story, I advise reading this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Nice book

    Although this books seems to be patterned after Laura Bush, it is a nice read. I found myself cheering for Alice and her grandmother just because they are so likeable.
    Would be great for a female book club.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    Good-until the very end.

    I really liked this book. Granted I didn't figure out that she was emulating her character after Laura Bush until about 2/3 of the way through, but I really liked it. I think it shows a wonderfully different side of how politics can work. I'd recommend it until the last chapter where it just got to philosophical for my taste.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2011

    Better than expected

    American Wife was a good read. The only problem I had with it was the way it was divided in parts and not chapters. I enjoyed the whole story and how unexpected things turned out. I got into this book to the point that I got a little emotional and normally I don't. I would recommend this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2011

    Beautiful

    The only reason i wouldnt give this book 5 stars is because it was a little lengthy, but it was a very well written, touching story.

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  • Posted January 3, 2011

    Surprisingly Good

    I did it, I judged a book by it's cover and snagged this one at an airport bookstand on my way to catching my flight. I didn't even read the synopsis, and had no idea what or who it would be about. Unlike some other reviews, in no way did I think this book was an attack on First Lady Laura Bush. On the contrary, I felt that it told her story (loosely related perhaps) in a very human and relatable way. The book was well written, easy to follow, and insightful. I would highly recommend this - as a card carrying Democrat, it softened my view on this political family, and shed light unto them as people, growing into a family, not as a president and his lawful wife.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2010

    interesting

    I enjoyed reading this. It was hard for me to put down. My only criticism would be that it dragged on at the end. Had me wanting to learn more about the real biography of Laura Bush...many things I never knew.

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