I just finished reading the book American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, and just can't say enough good things about it. Not only is Sittenfeld an amazing writer who's character development draws you quickly into the world she's created, but she also took a really interesting idea and went far beyond the Law and Order 'ripped from the headlines' style that would have been so easy.
A fictionalization of the life of Laura Bush, this book was enthralling. The 'George' character is named Charlie, and I was amazed how endearing I found him. He's this alcoholic f-up, who genuinely loves 'Alice' and his family, but just lacks in maturity in so many ways. I found myself several times throughout the book glancing up as the sickening realization would again strike me that, even though this is a fictionalized characterization, he's our president!
I have to admit that, while I'm really not a fan of W, I do like and respect our First Lady. I remember being completely disgusted during the '04 campaign when Theresa Heinz-Kerry made snide comments about her. 'Teresa Heinz Kerry told a newspaper she doesn't know if Laura Bush has ever had "a real job." She apologized Wednesday for having forgotten about the first lady's 10-year stint as a schoolteacher and librarian.' (USA Today)
While it's clear it's a novel, I can hear their voices in my head so distinctly that I found myself googling small facts throughout the book. Sittenfeld nailed this family while still taking plenty of artistic licence and creating a storyline that kept me turning the pages to the very end. How close she is on some of the points, I guess only the 'Blackwells' will ever know.
I've got Sittenfeld's other books in my 'to-read' queue on goodreads, and also enjoyed this article she wrote after interviewing Michelle Obama.
(This review cross-posted at Sex and the Knitty and Goodreads)