This is a compelling, well-written story, but I abandoned it halfway through. Why? I grew suspicious the author was sneaking her political viewpoint into the narrative, and the reviews I read confirmed the politicizing would increase throughout the novel. I wanted no part of that.
Alice Lindgren is a character inspired by Laura Bush, and the story follows her relationship with a charming politico named Charlie Blackwell. I've heard George W. Bush freely gives out nicknames, and I liked when Charlie called Alice "Lindy". However, while I don't know the Bushes' history well, parts of the story seemed so far-fetched I seriously doubted their similarity to the Bush family. Is Barbara Bush really a cold bitch? Is George Bush so self-deprecating that he comes across as stupid? (Democrats can easily answer that question, ha ha.)
I did love the author's description of the Midwest:The lushness of the grass and trees in August, the roll of the hills, that rich smell of soil, the evening sunlight over a field of wheat, or the crickets chirping at dusk on a residential street: All of it, it has always made me feel at peace. There is room to breathe, there is a realness of place.
Ms. Sittenfeld perfectly captured the awe and excitement of buying one's first home. I laughed upon learning Charlie and his brothers called their mother "Maj", short for "Your Majesty."
This novel had much potential but the hint of duplicity--inserting liberal dogma into a story about conservative individuals--didn't provide me the motivation to wade through 558 pages. It seems many readers have enjoyed the story but ultimately it wasn't for me.