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Extended Audio Sample American Wife: A Novel Audiobook, by Curtis Sittenfeld Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (24,549 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Curtis Sittenfeld Narrator: Kimberly Farr Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2008 ISBN: 9780739323878
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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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Curtis Sittenfeld is one of our best contemporary chroniclers of class and caste…Sittenfeld imagines this couple so deliciously and so plausibly…Curtis Sittenfeld invents a deep, messy, sympathetic life for a public person whose surface is all we’ll ever know.”

    St. Petersburg Times

  • “Immensely readable. It’s a nuanced portrait of a woman in a singularly fascinating position.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “A broad, deep, and utterly convincing account…A portrait of a woman and a marriage that also brings the reader as close to the probable essence of the outgoing president as any other novelist, or any biographer, is likely to get.”

    Oregonian

  • “An entertaining, racy tale that’s inspired more than a bit by the life of…Laura Bush…A well-told tale that will leave many readers wondering: How much of Sittenfeld’s story might be closer to fact than fiction?”

    St. Louis Post Dispatch

  • “The scope and detail of American Wife are reminiscent of Richard Russo. Like Russo, she creates characters from the ground up, ancestry, neighborhood, culture, and all.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • American Wife is a sparkling, sprawling novel…A ridiculously gifted writer…Sittenfeld has harnessed her talents perfectly in American Wife, producing an exhilarating epic infused with humor, pain, and hope.”

    BookPage

  • “Highly engaging…Fascinating depth.”

    Seattle Times

  • “With her first line—‘Have I made terrible mistakes?’—Alice Blackwell (a fictional First Lady modeled after Laura Bush) reels us into a gripping epic of public and private lives. A gem.”

    Good Housekeeping

  • “Just as she did in Prep, Sittenfeld masterfully deflates the middle-class fairy tale—rose gardens and all.”

    Marie Claire

  • “Bold…[It] conveys in convincing, thoroughly riveting detail a life far more complicated than it appears on the surface…What she does here, in prose as winning as it is confident, is to craft out of the first-person narration a compelling, very human voice, one full of kindness and decency. And, as if making the Bush-like couple entirely sympathetic is not enough of a feat in itself, she also provides many rich insights into the emotional ebb and flow of a long-term marriage.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Terrific…An intelligent, bighearted novel about a controversial political dynasty.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Remarkable…American Wife is about the long history of a marriage, and…the way we make decisions when we’re young that have consequences we couldn’t have anticipated…Sittenfeld’s most ambitious and impressive work to date.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • A well-researched book that imagines what lies behind that placid façade of the first lady…Ms. Sittenfeld was not out to sensationalize but to sympathize.
    Maureen Dowd, The New York Times
  • Brilliant…[A] triumph…Curtis Sittenfeld has provided a plausible secret history of an American embarrassment – and a grand entertainment. Joe Klein, Time Magazine
  • A smart and sophisticated portrait of a high-profile political wife…Sittenfeld has an astonishing gift for creating characters that take up residence in readers’ heads. Connie Schultz,Washington Post Book World
  • Sittenfeld boldly imagines the inner life of a first lady…an intimate and daring story…American Wife is a vicarious experience, an up-close portrait of the interior life of a very complicated woman…cinematic. USA Today
  • The novel, Sittenfeld’s most fully realized yet, artfully evokes the painful reverberations of the past. New Yorker
  • Compelling...enormously sympathetic...Sittenfeld’s remarkable gifts as a storyteller draw you back into the fictional world of Alice Blackwell. She writes in the sharp, realistic tradition of Philip Roth and Richard Ford–clear, unpretentious prose; metaphors so spot-on you barely notice them. Sittenfeld may have lifted the set pieces from a real woman’s life, but in the process she has created a wise and insightful character who is entirely her own. Time Out New York
  • Ambitious…Sittenfeld installs herself deep within the psyche of the tight-lipped wife of the president and emerges with an evenhanded, compassionate look at her mind and heart…powerfully intimate. Grade: A Washington Post

    “A masterful highbrow-lowbrow mash-up that satisfies as ass-kicking literary fiction
    and juicy gossip simultaneously.
  • “Curtis Sittenfeld is one of our best contemporary chroniclers of class and caste… Sittenfeld imagines this couple so deliciously and so plausibly… Curtis Sittenfeld invents a deep, messy, sympathetic life for a public person whose surface is all we'll ever know. St Petersburg Times
  • Immensely readable. It's a nuanced portrait of a woman in a singularly fascinating position. Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • A broad, deep and utterly convincing account…a portrait of a woman and a marriage that also brings the reader as close to the probable essence of the outgoing president as any other novelist, or any biographer, is likely to get. Portland Oregonian
  • We love Sittenfeld. We love her wry, razor-sharp observations. We love her funny, straightforward honesty…[American Wife] is an empathetic, fascinating, and gorgeously written story about a 30-year marriage. We devoured it in one night. Boston Magazine
  • Endearing and poignant, humorous and enlightening, American Wife is a must-read for Sittenfeld fans--and a good first read for would-be converts. Fredericksburg Freelance Star
  • An entertaining, racy tale that's inspired more than a bit by the life of our current president's wife, Laura Bush…A well-told tale that will leave many readers wondering: How much of Sittenfeld's story might be closer to fact than fiction? St Louis Post Dispatch
  • The scope and detail of American Wife are reminiscent of Richard Russo. Like Russo, she creates characters from the ground up, ancestry, neighborhood, culture and all. LA Times
  • American Wife  promises to be another sensation. Dayton Daily News
  • American Wife is a sparkling, sprawling novel…A ridiculously gifted writer…Sittenfeld has harnessed her talents perfectly in American Wife, producing an exhilirating epic infused with humor, pain, and hope. BookPage
  • Widely anticipated and vastly entertaining… An intelligent, well-crafted, psychologically astute novel New York Sun
  • Highly engaging…fascinating depth. Seattle Times
  • A well-researched, juicy roman a clef about the current first lady. Boston Globe
  • Ambitious…entertaining…a parable of America in the years of the second Bush presidency. Joyce Carol Oates, cover of The New York Times Book Review
  • With her first line - “Have I made terrible mistakes? Alice Blackwell (a fictional First Lady modeled after Laura Bush) reels us into a gripping epic of public and private lives. A gem.
  • This searing page-turner will make you wonder what unspoken promises lie behind the victory smiles of any power couple. Redbook
  • What is Laura Bush thinking? That’s the question Sittenfeld ponders in her novel,
    loosely based on the life of our First Lady…Just as she did in Prep, Sittenfeld masterfully deflates
    the middle-class fairy tale — rose gardens and all.
    Marie Claire
  • Bold…conveys in convincing, thoroughly riveting detail a life far more complicated than it appears on the surface…What she does here, in prose as winning as it is confident, is to craft out of the first-person narration a compelling, very human voice, one full of kindness and decency. And, as if making the Bush-like couple entirely sympathetic is not enough of a feat in itself, she also provides many rich insights into the emotional ebb and flow of a long-term marriage.
    Booklist, Upfront and Starred review
  • “A well-researched book that imagines what lies behind that placid façade of the first lady…Sittenfeld was not out to sensationalize but to sympathize.”

    New York Times

  • “Brilliant…[A] triumph…Curtis Sittenfeld has provided a plausible secret history of an American embarrassment—and a grand entertainment.”

    Time

  • “A smart and sophisticated portrait of a high-profile political wife…Sittenfeld has an astonishing gift for creating characters that take up residence in readers’ heads.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Sittenfeld boldly imagines the inner life of a first lady…An intimate and daring story…American Wife is a vicarious experience, an up-close portrait of the interior life of a very complicated woman…Cinematic.”

    USA Today

  • “The novel, Sittenfeld’s most fully realized yet, artfully evokes the painful reverberations of the past.”

    New Yorker

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2008 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • One of the 2008 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mj Schmidt | 2/6/2014

    " Good story about the life of Laura Bush--including her early years with George W. Bush. It will give you a picture (I think) of what he was like, how he came to be the man we saw lead (?) our nation for 8 years. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Samantha | 2/6/2014

    " It was interesting, seeing a President wife's view of how she made it to that certain point of her life, but it lacked flow. The story just was not as solidified as I would have liked to have seen it. It was also very compelling to see the difference between her beliefs and her husbands. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carolyn Young | 2/1/2014

    " Surprising and wonderful. One of my favorite passages about how reading books made the narrator who she is. I agree! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Desiree Swanson | 2/1/2014

    " One of those books that stayed with me for a long time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joan Corbo | 1/27/2014

    " American wife is a well written novel based on the life experiences of Laura Bush. I found it very intriguing . "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martha | 1/27/2014

    " Absolutely loved this book. A great fictional account based on Laura Bush's life. Well written and interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tkal | 1/22/2014

    " I really liked the main character but thought the story a little blah. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Bennett | 1/18/2014

    " Sittenfeld does an amazing job of putting the reader inside the heads of her characters. Great summer vacation read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cassandra | 1/17/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book. Laura Bush has been a person I have admired for quite some time and that is what first attracted me to the novel. However, I kept having to remind myself that Sittenfeld very loosely based the novel on her. The three quarters of the book were very quick to read and engaging. The last quarter of the book dragged on for me. Even with the book being more of a work of fiction, it has made me sympathize more with the family of the President, when they are more "innocent bystanders" than the ones who actually ran for the office. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Catherine | 1/17/2014

    " It took me a while to get into this book but it was definately worth my patience. It is a very clever and interesting look at a charector who is loosely modelled on Laura Bush. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ginnie | 12/27/2013

    " The main character (thinly veiled Laura Bush) is so passive - it sometimes was tedious. And I never was convinced that she and her husband (thinly veiled George Bush) were compatible. Still seemed like a very unlikely match. Wonder whether Laura Bush's own memoir was more convincing?! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bobbi | 11/26/2013

    " A very interesting book. I loved the first 2/3s but the last third dragged a bit for me, although I enjoyed the book overall "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eliza | 10/20/2013

    " this was the best book i have read in a long time. unput-downable but good quality as well as a page turner.. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emmaj | 9/20/2013

    " Brilliant - one of my all time favorites - a must read. More epic than prep and loosely based on Laura Bush "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tara | 5/10/2013

    " What I'm currently listening to during my commute. Interesting read knowing that it's losely based on Laura Bush. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bonnie Walker | 1/26/2013

    " Its been a couple years since I have read this but I remember enjoying the story. I also remember thinking, 'I wonder if this is a true story and if this was really written by . . . ' Read it, tell me who you think this book is based on :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jaclyn | 11/9/2012

    " Completely amazing. Perfectly written. Perfectly paced. And a fascinating story. Read this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen | 10/21/2012

    " Interesting take on the Bush marriage. Raises some good questions about a wife's role and responsibility in her husband's decision making. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 10/15/2012

    " It was alright...I couldn't connect much with the main character. Her decisions and the way she didn't get upset was upsetting :( I need someone who is more passionate. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Woodside (Niewiera_ | 9/9/2012

    " LOVED! Really good book - compelling - couldn't stop reading! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Darlis | 6/14/2012

    " We enjoyed listening to this. Supposedly a fictionalized account of episodes from the life of Laura Bush. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 6/3/2012

    " I read this when Bush was president so I don't know if it would be AS interesting now, but I thought it was a good read. It was very creative- how interesting to try and imagine the path to the presidency through her eyes. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jo | 12/1/2011

    " I really struggled to finish this one. Who has the nerve to write about someone else like that? I'm surprised anyone goes into politics anymore if this is the way you get treated. True or not it seems pathetic to make money off of someone else's story this way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leigh | 10/24/2011

    " A fictionalized telling of Laura Bush's young adult to post-presidency life. I think I would have loved it even if it wasn't based on a well-known public figure. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carolyn Svirsky | 9/28/2011

    " I really loved this book and didn't want it to end. I loved the writing style, the main character and the plot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle W | 8/15/2011

    " Predictably predictable but I really liked the description of her emotions. Felt very real and I could relate! Don't really know how Laura Bush does it...but love knows no boundaries I guess. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patty | 6/30/2011

    " I have always thought Laura Bush is a very decent, classy, intelligent, gracious woman with an interesting past. Whether any of this is true or not...I don't know. But I would love to believe she really is "that human." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mimy | 6/27/2011

    " Reimagines the life of Laura Bush. Very disturbing to read about her and the former president in sexual situations... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alicia | 6/23/2011

    " Poignant insight into a complicated yet ordinary woman, brilliant "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laurelaura | 6/20/2011

    " I like it until perhaps the last 100 pages - was a great exploration of what makes relationships work. But then it got all weird/political/too transparently about the Bush family. After all the liberties taken earlier, it was much too far-fetched! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 6/19/2011

    " Loved this book. It's loosely based on Laura Bush's life but whether you like her or not it was an entertaining book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 6/18/2011

    " Totally enjoyed this from beginning to end!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leah | 6/10/2011

    " Good book but for some reason it took me 3 years to read it!
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vivian | 6/10/2011

    " Written by a proclaimed Democrat who admires Laura Bush, this book is loosely based on Laura's life. I enjoyed the book, but now I want to read a Laura Bush bio. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Waterstoneswalsall | 6/9/2011

    " It wasn't what i thought it would be "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Allison | 6/8/2011

    " I was surprisingly engrossed for the first 3 sections. The 4th started to lose me, I must admit. "

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About the Author
Author Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of The Man of My Dreams and Prep, which was chosen by the New York Times as one of the Ten Best Books of 2005. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Salon, Allure, Glamour, and on public radio’s This American Life. Her books are being translated into twenty-five languages.

About the Narrator

Kimberly Farr is an actress and eight-time winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award for narration. She has appeared on Broadway and at the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Roundabout Theatre, Playwright’s Horizons, and the American Place. She created the role of “Eve” in Arthur Miller’s first and only musical, Up from Paradise, which was directed by the author. She appeared with Vanessa Redgrave in the Broadway production of The Lady from the Sea and has acted in regional theaters across the country, including a performance in the original production of The 1940’s Radio Hour at Washington, DC’s Arena Stage.