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Publisher's Summary

On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband's presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, "almost in opposition to itself."

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was 17 shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck.

So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican Party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes president, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek, one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility.

As Charlie's tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?

©2008 Curtis Sittenfeld; (P)2008 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"What a remarkable (and brave) thing: a compassionate, illuminating, and beautifully rendered portrait of a fictional Republican first lady with a life and husband very much like our actual Republican first lady's. Curtis Sittenfeld has written a novel as impressive as it is improbable." (Kurt Andersen)

What members say

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  • Overall

An interesting insight

First of all, I'm always impressed when a male author can write so well in a woman's voice. This book also presents a plausible picture of what it might have been like being the wife of a well-known, recent president and also a believable characterization of the personality of that president. I felt like Sittenfeld did some thorough research and created a really believable story. For my taste though, there was a little too much graphic sex ... athough some might argue that it was important in establishing the nature of both the husband and the wife.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sarah
  • New Canaan, CT, USA
  • 08-05-09

Wonderful-- honest and moving

I so enjoyed this book. Sittenfeld has done an amazing job creating the characters, especially Alice. The story is unflinchingly honest and I got totally pulled into the world the author creates: the family, the struggles of this woman as a wife and mother. What a treat to read a story, and to get to know a character, so fully developed as this.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • nina
  • Birmingham AL United States
  • 07-28-09

Surprised to find I liked it

Very good story. Would recommend even to people like myself who are not a shrub fan.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rhonda
  • Worcester, MA, USA
  • 01-09-09


I loved this book; it was so well written and so interesting. Even if I did not know who it was modeled after, the story would have been interesting anyway. I was very impressed and it was nice to make a good choice. The narrator was great too.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great Writer

Curtis Sittenfeld is an extremely talented writer. There is an honesty and an accessibility to her writing that is rare and delightful. The last section of the book was light on plot, but still enjoyable. Overall, I totally recommend. Don't worry about the politics of it. It's a story about people.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


It takes about two chapter to realize who this book is directed towards. The author can't wait to give you a CLUE in the prologue.

It saddens me that poetic license is taken on public figures, and the opinions...and they are only author opinions....are forced down the throats of the readers. The beginning sexual behavior the author conjured up to be behavior of a future first lady was appalling.

The saddest part......this author is capable of telling a good story and she could have chosen her subject with more descretion; and entertained
instead of using her creative promote her personal vendettas.

I would not recommend this writer to anyone.

3 of 14 people found this review helpful