American Wife

Praise & Reviews

“It is not easy to write fiction inspired by current events, especially if those events involve politics. The stage is too grand, the spotlight too bright. Our public life already is ridiculously flagrant, far too obvious and overwrought for good fiction. And so, all too often, political novels descend from satire into cheap farce. Such books can be entertaining and sometimes cathartic but usually not very nourishing. American Wife is something else entirely—the opposite of a political satire, in fact—with a languorous pace and a fierce literary integrity: Alice and Charlie are complete creations, unique in their humanity—Alice especially. She is the quirky and (usually) reliable narrator. This is the story of her inner life, a place that only fiction can go.”
—Joe Klein, Time

“What’s most shocking about American Wife is that this juicy roman á clef, a book one might expect to be schlocky, is so measured and thoughtful. Sittenfeld, author of Prep, has written an intelligent, bighearted novel about a controversial political dynasty. It’s also the summer’s most delicious read, a book you can guzzle like a cold, creamy milk shake.”
—Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly

“Sittenfeld offers a smart and sophisticated portrait of a high-profile political wife who takes the reins of a life she never wanted and holds on tight to who she wants to be, regardless of how the rest of the world perceives her….Sittenfeld also nails the many peculiarities of political life, from frequent squirts of Purell on hand-shaken palms to Alice’s realization that “I no longer know everyone I know.”….(As the wife of Senator Sherrod Brown, I offer an appreciative nod to Sittenfeld’s dead-on depictions of everyday political life.)…. Sittenfeld has an astonishing gift for creating characters that take up residence in readers’ heads.”
—Connie Schultz, The Washington Post

“An intimate and daring story….Alice is a woman of considerable intellect, compassion and character.”
—Carol Memmott, USA Today

“This latest novel succeeds in creating a memorable and sympathetic heroine….Allowing Alice to tell the story of her life in her own words, Ms. Sittenfeld does a nimble job of describing the chemistry that brought the Blackwells together. She not only conjures the physical electricity they shared but also captures the immediate ease they felt in each other’s presence: their ability to make each other laugh, their delight in spending time together, the happy meshing of their very different personalities: her introspection and good-girl caution grounding his boyish exuberance; his confidence and love of fun giving her a new sense of life’s possibilities.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“With American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld has deftly crossed an extraordinarily high wire….I read American Wife in just two or three delicious sittings, struck by the granular clarity of the author’s descriptions and the down-to-earth believability of the story, bewitched by the charming, frustrating woman at the center of it.
—Ana Marie Cox, The New York Observer