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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

American Wife

1. The novel opens and ends with Alice Blackwell wondering if she’s made terrible mistakes. Do you think she has? If so, what are they?

2. Alice’s grandmother passes down her love of reading to Alice. What else do they have in common? What does reading provide for Alice throughout her life?

3. Why does Andrew Imhof remain such an important figure to Alice, even decades later? Do you think they would have ended up together under different circumstances?

4. To what do you attribute Dena’s anger at what she calls Alice’s betrayal? Do you think her anger is justified? Are there other issues influencing Dena’s decision regarding their relationship?

5. After her confrontation with Pete Imhof in her early thirties, Alice states, “Long ago, I had become my own confidante.” What does she mean by this?

6. Is Charlie Blackwell a likable character? How did you feel about Alice’s decision to stay with him despite the problems they encountered in their marriage? Why do you think she continues to love him even though they are so different in so many ways?

7. Alice states that she lives a life in opposition to itself. What does she mean by this statement, and do you agree with it?

8. Does Alice compromise herself and her ideals by marrying Charlie? She tells him before they wed that she never wants to become a public figure. Do you think this has changed by the time he becomes president?

9. Were you surprised by the scene between Alice and Joe at the Princeton reunion? Why do you think it happened?

10. What would you have done in Alice’s situation at the end of the novel if you shared her beliefs? Do you think it was wrong of her to take the stance she did?

11. How do you think Laura Bush would react to this novel if she read it?

12. How is this book different from Sittenfeld’s previous two novels, other than in its subject matter?

American Wife
by Curtis Sittenfeld

  • Publication Date: February 10, 2009
  • Paperback: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0812975405
  • ISBN-13: 9780812975406