Book Club: American Wife

Read: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Stars: Four

Drinking: Water (I know, boring!)

This was my first book club meeting possibly ever.  It was supposed to be at one of the DC libraries, but at the last minute it got moved to a pub by Union Station.  Best book club location ever?  The focus of the club’s books is Washington, DC.  I’ll be reviewing each book and the club’s reactions after every meeting.

American Wife is loosely (or closely, depending on who you ask) based on the life of Laura Bush.  I am not well-versed on Mrs. Bush’s life, but I thought the book was quite good.  It reminded me quite a bit of Sittenfeld’s first book, Prep, in that a girl/young woman from the middle class ends up interacting with the rich and wealthy, trying to fit in but not quite succeeding.  American Wife explores other themes as well: life choices, marriage, love, and sacrifice.  Alice gives up her life as a children’s librarian and independent woman when she chooses to marry Charlie.  She chooses to stay with him, despite their class differences and despite his personal problems.  And she chooses to stay with him and support him through his runs for governor and then president.

The book club focused primarily on the dichotomy between Alice’s public self and her private self. We talked about the work that goes into projecting just the right image to the general public, about how much of what we see of both famous political figures as well as Hollywood stars is a well-prepared act.  It was a great discussion that ranged from not only the fictional first lady, but the real first ladies: Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama.  The three were so different in their actions, the way they dressed, and how the media reacted and continues to react to them.

It was a great discussion, and I’m looking forward to meeting with the group again next month!

Are you in a book club?

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