Curtis Sittenfeld's novels are the very definition of, Don't judge a book by the cover.
Titles like "Prep," "Man of My Dreams" and "American Wife," along with covers like the one above, scream CHICK LIT!
However, her writing is insanely good, almost brutal, and she's always on The New York Times' Top 10 Books of the Year.
So I'm beginning to like the CHICK LIT mask she continuously opts for despite established critical acclaim and success. Maybe she does it out of spite or it's a commentary on female story lines automatically getting deemed CHICK LIT or it's a private joke. Or, she genuinely likes it.
Anyway, I just finished "American Wife" and found the concept very provoking.
Though the names are changed and she imagined what certain events were like, the novel is based on the life of Laura Bush. Specifically, what it's like to marry someone whose character and beliefs are completely opposite of your own - and when that person becomes president, how you can rectify supporting him.
Sittenfeld expounds on things like the car accident she was involved in that killed her 17-year-old boyfriend, her love of reading, her simply stated pro-choice stance...
The book is not political and very forgiving in a humanistic sense - everyone, even George Bush, is more complex then we can even begin to imagine.
And, even though it's completely fictionalized, I now strongly relate to Laura Bush, especially in the escape she finds through reading.
I think it's a good reality check in a world where we tend to vilify and glorify people into black and white cartoon characters.
It also made me think...how can any leader, Republican or Democrat, with that much power and responsibility, not fall to the floor every day with the guilt and burden of the consequences of their actions?
It's a lot like "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" (another amazing novel) where war-ravaged Hungary wonders why people haven't felt obligated to put their eyes out in the same vein as Oedipus Rex.
As far as portraits of marriage are concerned...
With this novel in mind, as well as countless others..."Revolutionary Road," etc...
I still fiercely believe that I will marry my very best friend, who I'm insanely attracted to, insanely interested in, can proudly support, and can travel/explore the world with. That I'll never end up wearing elastic-waisted pants while waiting in line at Walmart. And that these convictions and feelings would never end, would even last forever.
I think I'll end with this statement:
I'm loving Michelle Obama in Europe. Especially when she hugged the Queen.