The acclaimed word-of-mouth bestseller
A rich, utterly absorbing, powerful story of how an ordinary girl from an unremarkable town grows up to become the first lady of the USA.
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.
“A quietly riveting parable...thought-provoking, entertaining and full of subtle reflections on class and marriage”
“Thoroughly enjoyable. The plot is beautifully paced, the writing quick, clear, absorbing...A sweeping saga”
“A powerful, utterly compelling and strangely moving fictional account of a First Lady who bears more than a passing resemblance to Laura Bush”
“Such an accomplished work of fiction...a thoughtful and compelling examination of the mechanics of family and marriage...Knowing and knowledgeable, yet also inventive and original, American Wife is a thrilling combination of history and surprises”
“Superbly well-written - one of the most absorbing books of the year”
“I was utterly absorbed in this story of a political marriage and a wife who has her own reasons. Curtis Sittenfeld has thrown a powerful light on small town America and its misunderstood values”
Linda Grant, Booker shortlisted author of The Clothes on Their Backs
“A classic story, with a langorous pace and a fierce literary integrity...Sittenfeld has provided a plausible secret history of an American embarrassment -- and a grand entertainment”
Joe Klein, author of Primary Colors
“This is one of the finest American novels of 2008”
“Curtis Sittenfeld is an amazing writer, and American Wife is a brave and moving novel about the intersection of private and public life in America. Ambitious and humble at the same time, Sittenfeld refuses to trivialize or simplify people, whether real or imagined”
“The scope and detail of American Wife are reminiscent of Richard Russo. Like Russo, she creates characters from the ground up, ancestry, neighborhood, culture and all...Her characters are carefully rendered and the story is well-constructed”
Los Angeles Times
“Vastly entertaining...It is an intelligent, well-crafted, psychologically astute novel”
New York Sun
“Weaves fate, family, marriage, wealth and power into an absorbing story.”
Mail on Sunday
“This engagingly candid First Lady is belssed with so many attractive qualities that her story grips from the very beginning. Full marks to Curtis Sittenfeld”
“Best book:I was on the beach in Croatia recently and it was the one book that quite a few women were lying there reading. It was surreal.”
Jenny Eclair, Best
“I truly can't believe what a great writer Sittenfeld is, she's fantastic.”
Jenny Colgan, The Herald
“A deft, funny and revealing story...This clever and convincing portrait of human frailty is a reminder that perhaps none of us is what we might seem. An honest and insightful story of a marriage, and a refreshing take on recent history.”
“American Wife is easily one of the best books written so far this century. It is honest, wonderful and smart as hell, the kind of book that you try to eke out to make it last as long as possible.”
“My favourite book of the year”