Monday, May 24, 2010

American Wife..Lisa's Thoughts..

Greetings, readers! It’s Lisa from Lisa’s Yarns. Emily is letting me take over her little corner of the interwebs to talk about our May book club selection – American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

When I checked this book out from the library and realized it was 558 pages long, I almost audibly sighed… Lately I have been gravitating toward books in the 200-300 page range. As the weather shifts toward being summer-like, my attention span also shifts and I was worried I would not be able to finish this book by the end of the month. It was the book I had suggested for the month, though, so I was bound and determined to get through it by the end of the month.

Little did I know I would finish it in less than a week! This book turned out to be such a page turner! I fell in love with the main character, Alice, and as she was being swept away by Charlie Blackwell, I was swept away by the book!

The central theme of the book is the relationship between Charlie and Alice Blackwell. The book is based upon the life of Laura Bush – and wow did it spark my curiosity about her! I am hoping to read her autobiography sometime this summer.

In the book American Wife, we learn that Alice is actually a Democrat – so subscribes to a different political ideology than her husband. That is a challenge in itself. Now imagine having different political beliefs from your husband when he is the president of the United States.

There is a somewhat long passage of the book that I would like to quote that I think sums up the struggle of choosing between love and your political beliefs:

“If I were to tell the story of my life, … and if I were being honest, … I would probably feel tempted to say that standing that night just inside my apartment, … I made a choice: I chose our relationship over my political convictions, love over ideology. But again, this would be false honesty; it would once more contribute to a narrative arc that is satisfying rather than accurate. My convictions were internal – I’d rarely seen the point in expressing them aloud, and if I had, my entire political outlook could have been summarized by the statement that I felt bad for poor people and was glad abortion had become legal. And so I didn’t choose anything in this moment. I had met Charlie a matter of weeks before, and already the idea of living without him made me feel like a fish flopping on the sand. To go from being a Democrat to a Republican, or at least to pretend, through smiling obfuscation, that I had – this was a small bring to pay for the water washing back over me, allowing me to breathe. (p. 204)”

Alice chose love over her political beliefs. Could you do the same? Is it possible to have a healthy, loving, and sustainable relationship when your beliefs are so polarized?

Thank you Lisa! I too, read this book very very quickly. One snowy weekend to be exact! To answer Lisa's question.. I could NOT choose love over political beliefs because my belief's are a little more exact than "I feel bad for poor people.." I have dated multiple people with differing views and it seemed those guys that were as passionate as me and I would NEVER work. I remember freshman year of college debating whether we should invade Iraq or not with my very new boyfriend. We had exact opposite opinions and we couldn't really get around that. It angered me so much how he could care so little for other people/truth. Now my husband and I both agree on what I would classify on the important stuff for me, but even with us I am more outspoken! He just nods and smiles at me and I do know that his economic beliefs are far more conservative than my own, but if we differ too much he stays silent and lets me rant, like a good husband. I probably wouldn't be as nice!!! ;) Thanks again Lisa!


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I would say most of my boyfriends have had opposite political beliefs. It was the source of much debate and a lot of tense moments. I don't think it would work out long term for me to date someone w/ such different beliefs.

I think it can work if 2 people aren't super passionate about their beliefs. But if they are passionate then I just don't know how you coudl ever marry someone from the opposite political party!!

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

I can't wait to get this book from a friend who has it. I don't think I could date someone with opposite beliefs if they were totally against the idea of compromising and trying to hear my side. I do believe repubs/dems can have relationships, but there definitely has to be a balance and mutual respect for each others choices. And ultimately, I don't think I would fall in love with someone who didn't for the most part have similar beliefs to mine.

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

You guys know I LOVE this book and adore Laura Bush. Alice Blackwell is very much like her, but still very different... I like them both very much.

I agree with Lisa, if you are both not overly passionate it could work, but if you are... oooh, that would be a problem.

My problem is I tend to see everything from everyone's point of view. I'm not too far one way... I can't even classify myself as republican OR democrat because I'm just so... all over the place!

This book is such a great novel and it really spurred an interest in the Bush family for me. Now, I am so fascinated by them and would go as far as saying I am grateful. My entire opinion has changed and it almost completely due to this book.

Anonymous said...

This book made me want to know more about Laura Bush's real life. Now that her autobiography is out, I can't wait to get my hands on it...

Amber said...

I've really wanted to read this book - I'll have to check it out!

It's interesting because politics are SO different in Canada then in the U.S.A. We don't have such severe LEFT and RIGHT politics - they are more middle ground. That being said, if someones beliefs were COMPLETELY opposite of mine and they weren't willing to debate with an open mind it might make me rethink our relationship. Eric and I have a lot of differing opinions when it comes to politics/religion but our core values are the same.

Sam said...

This sounds interesting! I am not overly passionate with my beliefs, so I don't think this would ever hinder a future relationship I have (and hasn't in the past).

Leigh Hutchens Burch said...

Bought this book at 1/2 Price a week ago, but I have library books to read first. When I finish it, I can't wait to backtrack here and see what conversations I missed!

Kelly said...

Great great post Lisa! I loved this book too, but it still took me awhile to read just cuz this month has been totally crazy.

I agree with you that it can work if people are not strong in their beliefs- which I don't really think Alice was all the time. Plus i don't think she quite expected him to be president. Eric and I generally agree on politics, but not always. When it comes to my beliefs there are some things that I am STRONGLY passionate about and some things that I can really understand both sides. I try to understand both sides but I really have no patience for people who are not tolerant of people who are different than I couldn't date someone like that I don't think.

Kelly said...

PS. Emily- I know you offered for me to also do a guest post on this book to add my perspective like 2 weeks ago and I haven't gotten back to you- I'd still love to do one. I'll get it to you by Wed, is that okay?

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Nice comments people!

Kelly, that is fine!

Becky said...

Okay I only read this post now because I was afraid it would have spoilers in it and I'm not done yet! (More than halfway through and loving it!) I too marked that passage and I could not choose love over political beliefs because I'm about politics the way I am about love - all in and passionate.

This book is eliciting conflicting reactions from me because I know it's "loosely" based on Laura Bush, but I also know the author probably took liberties. I was not a fan of our former president and there are times in the book I've found myself going, "See? How can you stay married to him?" but I have to remind myself it is just a story, although like other people have said it does make me curious about Laura Bush's memoir that's out now.