American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Written with an eye for even the smallest detail in a fluent and easily read language, I will begin by recommending Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife. Its definitely a good read. It is however also a huge read of more than 600 pages. And while the novel really is easy to read, it is also so densely packed with the main character Alice’s thoughts and reflections that it does take a while to chew through it. I am not by any means a super fast reader, but neither am I a particularly slow reader.

Its a serious novel, but there is also humor scattered around those 600+ pages. We follow Alice Lindgren, a naive Wisconsin girl, from her early childhood and until she is about 60 years old. We know from the beginning that she becomes America’s First Lady, but we are not told when in her life this happens. We need to read the book to find out about Alice’s life and her uneven path to being married to the American president.

The whole book is told through first person, and the result is that you really feel you get to know Alice. She is a likeable woman, and I enjoyed reading about her.
The first two thirds of the book is great! It I have to repeat that it is a joy to read about and follow Alice through her childhood, teens and adulthood. Its not that her path through life is a walk in the park, there are plenty bumps along the road, and some tragedies as well.

The last third of the book is a bit disappointing though. Alice has become First Lady (according to the book itself and several articles and reviews the character Alice is build loosely on Laura Bush), and the plot becomes a bit unlikely. I am not going to reveal why here, but plenty reviews on Amazon will gladly tell you why. I do agree with those reviews, but I will have to reveal too much of the book by telling you here, and I would have been annoyed myself if I had read those reviews beforehand.

If you are interested in a good piece of fiction, taking you all the way from the 1950’es to 2007 you should read American Wife.