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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin

In the year 2000, in the closest election in American history, Alice Blackwell's husband becomes President of the United States. Their time in the White House proves to be heady, tumultuous and controversial. 

But it is Alice's own story - that of a kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s Midwest who comes to inhabit a life of dizzying wealth and power - that is itself remarkable. Alice candidly describes her small-town upbringing and the tragedy that shaped her identity; she recalls her early adulthood as a librarian and her surprising courtship with the man who swept her off her feet; she tells of the crisis that almost ended their marriage; and she confides the privileges and difficulties of being First Lady, a role that is uniquely cloistered and public, secretive and exposed. 

In Alice Blackwell, Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is not a novel about politics. It is a gorgeously written novel that weaves race, class, fate and wealth into a brilliant tapestry. It is a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare.

©2020 Curtis Sittenfeld (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Un-putdownable.

So nuanced and richly layered. An absolute joy to listen to. You'll be sad to finish it.

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Fiction or Nonfiction?!

A really good story and with so many apparently authentic references it was difficult to imagine how much was fiction and how much reality!!

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Childish

How childish were these 31 year olds? Having lived in the US for some time, their self entitled posture rings true The main male character 'voice' was dreadful I'm sure Laura Bush wouldn't be impressed !

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My book of lockdown 2020

Funny, dramatic, moving. Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife was recommended on BBC4 Woman's Hour and rightly so. Brilliantly written and narrated.

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Tedious and overwritten

I still have 14 hours and 24 minutes to go, but this is where I stop. I'm of a generation that was exhorted always to finish any book one starts, and I've applied that principle to audiobooks too. However, I'm not getting any younger, and life is definitely too short to finish this vastly overwritten novel of people who are by turns dull, brash, and oblivious to their privilege. The first third of the reading held some interest in its descriptions of 1950s and 60s mores in small town America. The description of the initial aftermath of a major, avoidable tragedy on the teenaged protagonist is sensitive and perceptive. Thereafter, there are long gaps in the narrative of her life that don't make much sense. I suppose the author had to cut her voluminous prose somewhere. The narration by Kimberly Farr kept me going for the first 6+ hours, though her pronunciation of some European names is perhaps typically American, e.g. the play "Forst" by "Go-Etter"!

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Not plausible

I just couldn’t get my head around why a liberal, intelligent and empathetic woman would spend her life trying to justify her husband’s many shortcomings: conservatism , drinking problems, sexism , being a born again Christian! Why were these things presented as normal and acceptable to a woman who was introduced so wonderfully liberal and intelligent at the start. I understand that these things should be tolerated but I couldn’t believe this woman would take that to mean she could accept them in a life partner. I felt like the whole book, after she met Charlie, centred on her trying to rationalise his behaviour instead of living her own life to the full. I loved the book at the start which was about her inner world and making sense of growing up and personal tragedy. She had so much potential! After she met her husband I just couldn’t identify with it. I didn’t find it plausible.

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Engrossing, insightful, compelling listening.

I downloaded this book on some sort of whim of a deal and had it sitting in my library for many months before getting around to listening. I just didn’t fancy the topic, the era, the controversy. But, I began listening and could not stop. Could not stop. I was completely invested from the beginning and bereft when it ended as I felt so very engaged with the characters, the topic and the controversy. As a teenager I wanted to have grown up a 1950s teenager and now as an adult I now after listening fantasise about being a 1980s/90s privileged American Wife. Talented author, the level of detail in crafting the characters and building the stories is awe striking.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 29-08-20

Interesting story - fun fiction behind the curtain

Not my usual go to but very highly recommended by chats 10, looks 3. Story line dips into some huge issues with finesse and sensitivity while still making this a comfortable read. The look behind the curtain approach and thoughts that all humans have their faults even those we put on a pedestal is raw and so plausible. Overall a nice read, a little too long for me but many will enjoy this.