Anne Michaud has masterfully profiled nine political wives whose husbands have cheated and who chose to stay in the marriage, featuring Eleanor and FDR, Jackie and JFK, Valerie Hobson and Jack Profumo, Hillary and Bill Clinton and many others. The author unveils secrets that are not so accessible to the public, exploring the psychology of women married to cheating politicians, and what it costs and means to them to stay. No one could have written this book better than Anne Michaud, a columnist who has covered politicians for decades. Her observations are sharp and compelling and her prose shines with her unique signature for phraseology, crispness, and excellent diction. Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals, and Hidden Agendas of Nine Political Wives is a very informative, engaging, and entertaining work.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Prologue: The White Queen Relationship
Trait One: Submitting to Tradition
Trait Two: Longing for Security
Trait Three: A Personal Sense of Patriotism
Trait Four: Responsibility for the Family’s Emotional Health
Trait Five: Ambition to Build and Bequeath a Legacy
1. Eleanor & FDR
Living Separate Lives Together
Eleanor’s White Queen Quotient
Seeking Security in a World of Privilege and Dissolution
Schooled in a Proud Patriarchal Legacy
To Washington, and Temptation
Why She Stayed
Eleanor’s Commitment to Duty Tested
Fashioning a New Kind of First Lady
Infidelity’s Legacy for the Five Roosevelt Children
2. Jackie & JFK
A Legacy of Adultery
Jackie’s White Queen Quotient
The Kennedys and Fitzgeralds:
Stepping Up from ‘Second Class’
A Façade of Financial Security
Jackie’s Mother: Schooling her Daughters to Marry Mr. Right
Male Privilege: Philandering in Both Houses
Coping in Bed and All the Way to the Bank
Turning Outward Toward Caretaking
A Heritage of Resiliency
3. Valerie Hobson & Jack Profumo: Bringing Down the Party
Valerie’s White Queen Quotient
From Poverty to Hollywood: The Woman at the Center of the Scandal
A Noble Family and Every Other Advantage
Marriage Agrees with Jack’s Political Career
Hiding the Scandal from the Children
Deciding Whether to Stay
4. Marion Stein & Jeremy Thorpe: Party Leader Blackmailed
Marion’s White Queen Quotient
A Life Blossoming Through Music
Fairy Tale Marriage to a Royal Grandson
The Charismatic Jack Kennedy of Britain
Gay Men in Public Life
A Deadly Plot
Scandal’s Legacy for Four Sons
5. Hillary & Bill Clinton
Hillary’s White Queen Quotient
Mixed Messages from a Righteous Mother and Overbearing Father
An Evidently Formidable Team
Clearly Not a One-Woman Man
Uneasiness in the Land of Patriarchal Politics
Protecting Her Family’s Legacy—and That of Her Country
Making a Normal Family Life for Chelsea
Arguing for a ‘Zone of Privacy’ for Political Families
6. Gila & Moshe Katsav
Gila’s White Queen Quotient
A Life Built on Building a Community
A Tremor of Scandal, and Then an Avalanche
What Gila and Their Children Knew
7. Wendy & David Vitter
Wendy’s White Queen Quotient
Early Training in ‘No Nonsense’
The Lone Wolf of Louisiana Politics
D.C. Madam Publishes Clients’ Phone Numbers and Fetishes
Protecting Himself from His Own Urges
8. Silda Wall & Eliot Spitzer
Silda’s White Queen Quotient
A Southern Belle Drawn to Harvard
Pressure to Perform in a Dynasty on the Rise
Silda Wonders, ‘Who is This Guy?’
‘The Wife is Responsible for the Sex’
Trying to Mend the Family
9. Huma Abedin & Anthony Weiner
A Woman of Confidence
Learning to Defend Herself and Her Culture
A Middle-Class Son from Brooklyn and Queens
The ‘Most Competent, Graceful Person’ in Politics
A Sex Scandal Fueled by 21st Century Media
Huma’s White Queen Quotient
Social Media Obsession Helps to Sink Hillary Clinton Campaign
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (11/17) Anne Michaud, acclaimed journalist and author of “Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals and Hidden Agendas of Nine Political Wives,” details a compelling account of couples in the public limelight whose marriages are tainted by disgrace, injustice and dishonor. How and why the wives of these couples stay in their marriages is the author’s focus. Michaud offers nine examples of political marriages that endure in the face of sexual scandal and infidelity. The stories that she presents span the period of 1920 to the present day as well as both sides of the Atlantic. The author compares the women to the medieval queen, Elizabeth Woodville, grandmother to King Henry VIII, whose loyalty to the Tudor dynasty surmounted her desire for a faithful marriage. Michaud describes five specific characteristics she calls the “White Queen Traits” which she says account for the reasons these political wives stay with their immoral husbands. She describes the “White Queen” attributes as: patriarchal tradition, security, patriotism, family responsibilities and legacy building. Michaud hypothesizes that today’s political marriages are not so different from the centuries old sovereign unions. In her view, spouses of contemporary statesmen are destined to make the same sort of compromises as medieval queens did due to the unique set of standards and pressures they face. Recent times also bring to light other factors that may play a part in why these women stay. Michaud invites us to question whether or not these wives might be influenced by a general distrust of the media press. Or, as the role for women in politics evolves, could they be jockeying for their own powerful positions in the government? “Why They Stay” is well written and has an in-depth group of endnotes that denote the book’s tremendous supporting references. The “stories” are mini histories of time. They serve as informative synopses of the Roosevelts, Kennedys, Clintons and other prominent families. The writer does take a bit of liberty in assuming the source of these women’s beliefs and feelings, whether of conservatism, patriotism or security. At the same time, theorizing and labeling each of the wives with a “White Queen Quotient” makes for an interesting read. While I see the book as more of a political history and social study, others may view it as a tabloid type of journalism. For example, in commenting on Jacqueline Kennedy, the author asserts it was “hardly a patriotic choice (to marry Aristotle Onassis), and for this, Jackie forfeits her White Queen points.” Anne Michaud’s book is an intricate psychological study of political wives who remain in marriages despite their influential partners’ sexual exploits. The book highlights the similarities between these nine wives and gives particulars as to why their public positions make them more likely to remain in such humiliating relationships. Anyone interested in politics or the dynamics of couples in public positions would definitely find this book of interest. “Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals and Hidden Agendas of Nine Political Wives” by Anne Michaud is a poignant look at modern political partnerships whose message not only speaks to the validity of marriage in leadership positions but also to the principles and morals of our leaders themselves.
"Why They Stay” is a candid, eye-opening exploration of the lives of nine prominent political wives, and their experience with dealing with marital infidelity on the public stage. Many people (including myself) sit in judgment of the often-hypocritical politicians and their antics, but at the same time the spouse is also judged, often harshly, for what she does or doesn’t do. Frequently she is ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. How to win in this no-win situation? The author Anne Michaud does a great job of asking questions and explaining certain theories and examples of why women through history and now (The White Queen) would stand by their husbands, in a way that makes sense and is actually understandable. She pulls us in to the story right from the beginning pages, and skillfully narrates a wide-ranging storyline full of complex and deeply emotional issues. In my opinion it really is the individual women profiled who made this story so good, each so original and conflicted in their own way, and we pull for them throughout their personal journeys. It is interesting to see a different side of them as they endure personal, public struggles. A memorable read and a keeper for sure.
I was amazed how quickly I flew through this book, but it was such an easy and engaging ride, and every time I finished reading about one wife I was curious to read about the next! Love that there were some ‘new faces’ here I wasn’t familiar with, along with the old standbys (Kennedy, Clinton, Weiner…) I like how Anne Michaud uses such a personal tone in her writing (even her personal experiences) but lays the framework out in an intelligent, logical and coherent manner in regards to the different women and their similarities/differences. While they all have things in common, their backgrounds and lifestyles are different so it was interesting to see how this all tied in to the White Queen Relationship, the author’s argument for “Why They Stay.” Interesting to see how everything came together, and I enjoyed every page! Anne Michaud writes very well-- very descriptive and strong and we feel a great connection with the plight of these women as they navigated through some substantial, extraordinary experiences. Impressed with the terrific editing job, and think this is definitely a book worth reading.
I’m not one for rehashing the book (that’s what the summary is for on the book description page), but trust me when I say you’ve never read anything like this before! It’s not a fast and easy read by any stretch, but it will take you through whole different lives and experiences in ways that you’ve never thought of before. I felt a connection with each of these women that I didn’t expect, and I thought the author’s narrative prose was so engaging and easy to read – very natural sounding and the way she brought each of the individual couples (especially the wives) to life, and the attention to all the details that gave this book genuine authenticity. I actually feel like I learned something and had a fun time doing it. In a way it was quite inspiring as well and has an important message for everyone.. Recommend for fans of political nonfiction.
4.5 stars I was immediately intrigued by the concept of this book. As they say, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’. I just admit that I am not all that familiar with several of these people (but I am some of them) and wonder about the importance of it all. I guess it’s easy for us to sit back and judge or questions someone else private life and their decisions, but that’s generally not something I like to do. What husbands and wives go through is similar throughout time and the social scale. The thing that makes it different is when it becomes a public spectacle and the injured party (in this case the wife) is now expected to somehow rise above and be strong and classy and all eyes are on her and what she will do. This is a really tough position to be in and I don’t envy any of them. What makes this book good, however, is it doesn’t paint these women as weak or as victims, but strong women who are able to endure heartbreak and public humiliation for the sake of something bigger than themselves. This is an important message for everyone, I think. Not that cheating or infidelity is ok, but why it doesn’t have to destroy you or a marriage when there are greater things at stake. Thought there was some really great and interesting biographical information here I didn’t know before, and I have a feeling that this book and the women and their fates and experiences will stay with me for some time. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Michaud as she is truly a gifted storyteller AND writer (not necessarily the same thing…).
To say this is totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before would be an understatement, and I was surprised just how much of the stories that Anne Michaud covers in her book “Why They Stay” I was completely unfamiliar with (ignorance is bliss?) But nevertheless they are real events that have plagued the political landscape and captured many people’s attention. Like it or not these sex scandals do affect the public, and so the roles of their wives is just as important, but often they receive more shaming than the man who does the cheating (go figure). I’m not sure how to even describe this book as so much happens, and it seems to touch on so many subjects, from historical context, to social standards, and the elements of the “White Queen Relationship” in relation to withstanding marital infidelity for the sake of the bigger picture. Smooth pacing, plenty of drama, and amazing characters/personalities, along with true, real life issues and scandal makes this a definite winner in my eyes. I think that you need to take your time while reading it to really grasp everything the author is saying, as it will require some deeper thought and reasoning, and might even change your perspective on some things.
From the opening pages of “Why They Stay” I knew it would be different from the books I’ve been reading lately and I was right! Right away Anne Michaud sets the scene and tone in a skillful way that not only draws us right in, but creates great visualizations (like we are watching a movie on TV) and elicits genuine emotional reactions. I truly felt like I got to know these people better and helped me to understand their positions better… how dealing with infidelity is already a terrible thong to go through, but when you are a public figure and part of a political team, the circumstances change in ways many people might not even consider. I was surprised to realize that this book did actually change my mind on a few things and perhaps helped me to understand… and respect… some of these women a little more. An interesting and diverse cast of characters, along with several intriguing scandals interwoven against historical and political setting makes this a memorable read for me. Highly recommend.
this was the first book I’ve read by this author Anne Michaud, but I certainly hope it’s not the last. She has a gift for writing in a way that really helps us relate to some very un-relatable characters and scenarios. It’s one thing for us to sit back and judge why these women would ‘stand by their man’ when many would leave, and it’s easy for us to dismiss them as being weak or even politically greedy (not wanting to give up the power the man brings to the table). And while some if that may be true, there is much more than meets the eye, and Michaud does a great job of exploring some various premises. I like that this book didn’t feel stale or derivative of anything I’ve ever read before, which I thought it might be as I’ve read a few of these ‘true life, behind the scenes’ type books before. But this was nothing like those. It is a hefty read that covers a lot of territory, but does so with remarkable depth considering the sensitive subject matter at times. It is profound, intelligent, jaw-dropping, complex, and inspiring… all the qualities I look for in a good book, and it delivered s solid message.
Just a heads up…when starting “Why They Stay” by Anne Michaud, make sure you don’t have anywhere you need to be or anything you need to do because you won’t want to stop reading until you’ve finished it all!! Trust me on this!! The book starts off with a very interesting beginning setting the stage and tone for the book and how we will be delving into the not-so-private sex lives of some famous political couples, and examine the circumstances around their behavior, and why the women stay. Each section is so well-developed and fully fleshed out you feel like you know these people personally and are really there with them dealing with things that are shocking and downright heartbreaking at times. I think what I liked the most about this book was just the overall feel the author managed to create where it felt intimate, like a close friend was telling me this really candid story that I didn’t want to stop listening to. By putting it in the context of the White Queen, I think Michaud has tapped into something that can help explain something that might be confusing to many. Great research and detailing and historical backstory with the couples. Recommend.
At first I admit I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into in deciding to read this book. Because admittedly I do tend to lean towards the paranormal/fantasy romance elements of literature because I enjoy the make-believe parts. And I really can’t stand most politics (and politicians) So a book about why women would stay with their cheating political husbands? Probably not my usual fare. But I was intrigued by the writing sample and the way that I felt an almost immediate connection to some of these women, and the fact that they were at one point really in love with these men who unexpectedly put them in a really awful situation, and explores the possibilities of why they handled things the way they did. I think this book did a great job of making us ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ and might help to change some minds on if these women are strong, or spineless. I found myself just wanting to read more… and more… and more… and I couldn’t believe it when I realized I was totally hooked, and seeing things a bit differently than before. Felt like I learned a lot and was actually entertained. Recommend.
Make no mistake, “Why They Stay” is definitely a compelling, unforgettable read, and one that will appeal to a wide variety of readers due to its far-reaching and relevant plotlines. This book focuses on 9 wives of famous cheating politicians, from Kennedy to Clinton and a few lesser known ones, yet it all fits well together in a unique blend of family, life, and cultural/socio-drama. The book itself was fairly even-paced, but I did think some parts were a bit slow personally, but mostly flowed well. One thing I particularly liked was how even though we are viewing the story through the eyes of an outsider trying to explain the reasoning for the wives’ actions, it feels very logical and plausible and helps to put us inside their heads. There is definitely some truth in the words of these pages and Anne Michaud does a great job of relating these issues in a way that exposes more than what most people will ever know, but does so in a way that is both easy to read and interesting as well. Recommend.
I really loved this book! I thought it was excellently written and the editing was near flawless which is a huge plus in my mind! It kept my attention from the intriguing opening with the sex scandals ripped straight from today’s headlines, all the way to the ending. Despite the subject matter, this is not a light and fluffy read by any stretch… nor should it be. There are too many important events and historical/cultural circumstances here to gloss over so the author takes her time in carefully dissecting the various couples and the wives’ roles (grading them on a scale from 1-10 on the “White Queen” status) so that we the readers are thoroughly invested the whole way through. I liked Ms. Michaud’s writing style very much, and found myself completely lost in these pages night after night – felt like I learned so much more about some public figures that I didn’t know before. Was almost disappointed when I was done, but I hope the author writes more like this in the future, or something similar.
first, I have to say that I don’t normally read books like this, but I was looking for something a little out of my comfort zone and this concept sounded intriguing. Of course we’ve all heard of some of these affairs, but a few were new to me. I’m not one for tabloid gossip, but I liked the approach that Anne Michaud took here, and I am most certainly glad I took the chance on “Why They Stay”! This was a captivating book and very impressive for a debut (although the author has extensive writing experience and it shows). There is such strong, vivid writing, and the players are all fascinating, flawed, and incredibly well-researched and presented.. Great character insight and narration. Everything just felt “authentic” for lack of a better word. Helped to shine a new light on some of these people and their situations, and instead of just looking at it like they are standing by a cheater, it examined the bigger picture of tradition, security, patriotism, family health, legacy, etc… You might not agree with all of it but you are hard pressed to find fault with much of the reasoning here. I thought this was overall a highly readable, very enjoyable book that I’d recommend even to those who don’t normally read this sort of thing…try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and might actually learn something. I know I feel differently about some of these women now and have a new level of respect for them and what they do.
Why They Stay…by Anne Michaud is a riveting book that captured my attention from the beginning, pulled me in, and never once let go. Each chapter/ case study was enticing, well presented, and flowed smoothly from one to the next… never a “dull part” where you get bored or want to skip ahead… in fact almost the opposite with the various fascinating public personalities and going from one political sex scandal to the next. The writing is very strong, and while I generally don’t like reading books that are all narrative, here is completely works and you are totally hooked on every word and every page. I feel like I learned so much about their lives that I didn’t know which helped change my perspective some and give me greater understanding. Many women wonder how these wives can possible stand there next to their husbands after all the public shame they bring (at least Huma finally got out!) but this helps to explain why. A fascinating read that is both entertaining and enlightening.
"Why They Stay” is hands down one of the most riveting and well-crafted books I’ve read in a long time! I was completely drawn in from the opening pages, and absolutely loved the author’s use of description of the different couples’ situations, their history, backstory and circumstances, and her attention to detail on all fronts. We feel transported not only into their lives, but see them and their drama from a different, more analytical viewpoint. It was a wonderful and eye-opening view into another mindset (that of the “White Queen” that many women can relate too, while many others would judge it as being unacceptable. And Anne Michaud shows us many facets of political and personal arrangements that we probably never considered before. This book covers so, so much it’s impossible to sum up, but it felt like I gained a new perspective here and it was interesting to see how similar many of these women are. I’m sure we’ve all wondered why these women didn’t leave, and this book does a great job of explaining why. I was really impressed and would recommend this book with the highest of praise.
I had mixed feelings on this book, “Why They Stay” by Anne Michaud, as there were some parts I thought were quite profound and enlightening and I admit even changed my perspective some on women I felt less respect for because they tolerated the infidelity for the sake of their “positions” (like Hillary). I can only imagine the difficult task an author has in explaining and almost ‘defending’ these people’s actions and trying to give it some sort of noble reasoning. But I feel like I just don’t buy a lot of it and it just makes the women look almost worse… the fact that they still felt that they needed their husband in order to ‘be someone’, and what sort of role models they are for other women, saying that it is okay for the men to act this way and they will stay with them. I get that this is a controversial subject with different ideas of morality for different situations, and while I agree and understand with some of it, and think Michaud did a terrific job of stating her argument and clearly backing it up, it just isn’t something that I really see myself swallowing – pardon the pun. This book seems to be a great blend of facts and narrative, and the writing was good and the pace of the book was quick. It was an easy read, and I enjoy the author’s “voice” a lot. Just some elements worked more for me than others.
4.5 stars "Why They Stay” by Anne Michaud is the first book I’ve read from this author, and it was fantastic. Right away it felt different than the normal kind of book I read---- In fact, I generally stick to more traditional fiction novels, but since this sounded interesting and included several real-life power couples whose illicit activities have made headlines, I think my curiosity got the best of me. I have never read another book that covered extramarital affairs form such a ‘logical’ point of view, if you will, and dissects them in relation to what the author terms “The White Queen Relationship” and its 5 traits. I think it’s so easy for us to judge the lives of others and mock or ridicule their choices, but this book shows us just what a jungle it can be and the heartbreaking realities of these womens’ lives and their impossible situations, but how what they do is based on patriotism and security, tradition, etc… Very intriguing and definitely puts a new light on some of these people, in my opinion. And to have to go through the humiliation in public while maintaining grace and dignity is an unenviable task. A riveting, well researched (and documented) exploration into the possible psyche and historical context of political sex scandals and the women who survive them.
I loved this book, read it in one night! Very easy to get sucked into and right away the reader is invested and curious about these people and events that we’ve heard of (maybe some more than others), and giving it a deeper look and explaining in more detail. This book covered it all… drama, psychology, sex and romance, historical and political context... The couples profiled are all very well researched and analyzed from several perspectives, and I really got a better understanding of the wives’ positions and perhaps why they stay with these men. Maybe there were some shades of what one could consider to be clichéd stereotypes, but Anne Michaud does a wonderful job of breathing genuine life and humanity into them and making them real and relatable. Also, for a book that is ‘nonfiction’ I didn’t think it was dry or boring at all, and I always appreciate that! Definitely feel like I learned something about what it is like to be in their shoes, and think the “White Queen” is an interesting, astute theory. Even though I may not personally agree with some of what these women have done, I have newfound respect for those who manage to survive and endure these tumultuous, very public events. Great writing and editing.
what is politics without the scandals? We’ve all read the headlines, from Clinton to “Carlos Danger” and while these escapades provide for great tabloid fodder, there are real people and real marriages involved that make us wonder what is really going on behind the scenes… why these women stay with their husbands when in this day and age they don’t necessarily ‘need’ them to succeed. What I appreciated was that it gave us insight to the various wives’ personality and motivations, and really gave some depth and historical context that I felt helped us to understand their decisions and situations. I had heard of several of these “cases” but a few were new to me (Including Eleanor and FDR!) Very interesting to see the similarities and the differences with the couples, and I couldn’t help but wonder if some of these women’s actions had affected others down the line. Excellent writing and execution and flawless editing. Professional from start to finish. Recommend.
This is the first book I’ve read about this subject, and even though we’ve all heard stories of infidelity and adultery about politicians, it’s fascinating to read about the roles of the wives and “Why They Stay…” – something we have all wondered more than once. This was such an addicting and informative read from Anne Michaud, and I was impressed with not only just how well written it was (she is obviously a seasoned writer), but how eye-opening and enlightening it was as well. I admit to have judged some of these women, but understanding the role of “The White Queen Relationship” and seeing how it plays out in marriage and politics, it makes some of their actions a little more understandable. Not that I still agree… just understand a bit more. Reading a book from this angle gives it a whole new perspective I think. Interesting and varied cast of personalities as here, from Kennedy to Clinton, and the ups and downs of extramarital affairs from a sociological, political, and personal point of view. It was a fast read for me and quite enjoyable. Recommend for fans of political nonfiction.