Alice was raised in a middle class family in the 60’s where her father is a banker and mother, Dorothy, is a full time housewife and Granny Emilie, well, is a learnt and well-read granny who happens to be a lesbian. Alice grew up with best friend Dena Janaszewski but has to succumb to Dena’s constant flaunting of her power over boys. One day before her prom night, Alice drove her father’s car and killed Andrew Imhof on a junction where he was supposed to pick her up and go to the prom. Alice spent many years mourning Andrew’s death, as she felt responsible for his death she was obliged to return “favours” to Andrew’s brother, Pete, who used her and also cheated her mother out of her husband’s inheritance and foiled Alice plan to buy her own place. Alice underwent a horrific abortion. And then Alice met Charlie Blackwell and fell madly in love and Alice has to put up with his goofy family members and their off-coloured jokes (Charlie is a parallel of George Bush Jr.)…. And then I stopped reading the book.
It became too petty, whiny, too analytical, and then it sort of fell into a pit hole of chit list disguised as the first lady life story epic. The story line is very much predictable after that, she moved from an unknown address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She has different political belief than her husband’s but has to appear united in front of the public. Alice was a democrat and a converted republican after marriage, bore Charlie a daughter named Ella, survived and win the elections by a close margin, and spent sleepless nights pondering and worrying about her husband’s flawed political decisions. Then, Alice’s granny died, Pete dated Dena, Ella hooked up with Alice’s ex’s son, Alice the solid rock of Charlie, the ever supportive woman behind the “successful” man, their hard but enduring love …. I thought I have better ways to spend my time then to finish the 636-page books. Perhaps my favourite passage would be:
During my senior year in high school, I’d stopped thinking of marriage as my birthright. It wasn’t just that I no longer considered myself inherently deserving or that I no longer believed I was looked after by the universe. It was also that I would not want to marry a man unless I could show myself to him truly – I had no interest in tricking anyone –but I couldn’t imagine showing myself to most men, revealing myself as someone more complicated than I seemed. If thinking of exertion and explanations that would require discouraged me, it also made me calm, I didn’t work myself up, as other women I knew did, panicking over finding Mr. Right. I accepted that the years to come would unfolded their ways, that I could control only a few aspects of them. To remain alone did not seem to me a terrible fate, no worse than being falsely joined to another person.
The book stayed in Waterstone’s top 10 for many weeks. It was recommended by a colleague of mine. The book reviews run in pages, It’s juicy, it’s easy reading but I tried several times to pick up the book again, and skimming it, and I just didn’t have the interest to read it with gusto. I think it’s because Alice wasn’t very intelligent and likeable. Or because it’s a parallel of the Bushes that puts me off. Or the petty bickering and the annoying characters, none of them I feel strongly for. or maybe for the simple fact that Sittenfield writes for teen magazines!!! One of the mysteries in life. I suppose I have to abandon it.
About the Writer:Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the bestselling novels American Wife, Prep, and The Man of My Dreams, which are being translated into twenty-five languages. Prep also was chosen as one of the Ten Best Books of 2005 by The New York Times, nominated for the UK’s Orange Prize, and optioned by Paramount Pictures. Curtis won the Seventeen magazine fiction writing contest in 1992, at age sixteen, and since then her writing has appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic Monthly, Salon, Glamour, and on public radio’s This American Life. A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she was the 2002 – 2003 writer in residence at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C.