A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice Lindgren has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the president. In her small Wisconsin hometown, she learns the virtues of politeness, but a tragic accident when she is seventeen shatters her identity and changes the trajectory of her life. More than a decade later, when the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family sweeps her off her feet, she is surprised to find herself admitted into a world of privilege. And when her husband unexpectedly becomes governor and then president, she discovers that she is married to a man she both loves and fundamentally disagrees with–and that her private beliefs increasingly run against her public persona. As her husband’s presidency enters its second term, Alice must confront contradictions years in the making and face questions nearly impossible to answer.
Reviewed July 2011
A book I couldn't put down, and already a contender for my book of the year, without a doubt. This was recommended to me last year, but was always checked out of the library, and in the end I read Sittenfeld's two other novels (Prep and The Man of My Dreams) before I read this. I already clicked with Sittenfeld's writing style, which is clear but rich and involving, and this book was no exception.
It follows the life of Alice Lindgren from childhood to adult life, in which she eventually becomes the First Lady of the United States. I knew that there were parallels to be drawn with a specific first lady (although I didn't realise how obvious this would be), and the book paints a fascinating portrait. Alice's relationships with her husband and her family are the backbone of this book, rather than any one event, but the journey is a riveting one; well worth a read.
Original Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars
Book source: Bought.
From the Vaults is an attempt to resurrect those book reviews I wrote and published on Goodreads before I started Bibliotekit. They tend to be quite short, but I hope they might highlight some good books I picked up in the last couple of years!