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Eighteen Acres: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 19, 2010
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"Eighteen acres" is a term politicos use when speaking of the White House complex. As a former communications director for President Bush and a political media strategist and a campaign advisor for John McCain and Sarah Palin, author Nicolle Wallace certainly knows her way around those eighteen acres very well. She's given us an insider's view of what it's like on the other side of the security fences as we look into the private areas in the White House and at the presidential get-away, Camp David. Wallace's behind- the-scenes action also takes us into the back-stabbing manipulation that happens within the media and print news arena.
While I expected more of a political thriller, I found the story compelling and an interesting read. Ms. Wallace writes characters that the reader can care about and become invested in. I did find the heavy focus on expensive designer name products a bit off putting coming from people in such high power positions. Am I nitpicking? Maybe. But such name dropping is both distracting and unnecessary in a book of this genre.
I do recommend Eighteen Acres. It's a fun fast read, with a nice flow through story about what it would be like to have the first woman president. I expected a bit more conflict and complexity, but all in all, Ms. Wallace has written a great first novel. I'll look forward to what she does next!
The author seems to get her bearings about half way through the book and manages to finish out with a story that is finally compelling. Overall though, this barely rises above the level of fluff. Issues that could have used more exploration were dropped, some important things skipped entirely, and the relationships portrayed never succeeded in becoming anything but two dimensional characterizations. The three women portrayed here are often unlikeable and the author makes little attempt to examine their motivations. This novel seemed like it was attempting to cover some serious material, it just lacked depth and execution. Not a recommend.
Let's start with a problem that could be mine - at the unguarded moment of purchase, it never occurred to me that a political book written by a woman would be FOR women, but the overbearing and constant references to designer clothes, shoes, fashion, and other 'chick-flick' inclusions was very off-putting, and, ultimately, it stopped me cold. I finally gave up at about 80 pages. I love American history and politics as subject matter. I hadn't read fiction in over 20 years, and so, I'll own that I blundered by assuming that this would be a "non-genderified" political read. 'All the President's Men' and 'The Crusader' (both non-fiction) never once referred to the Presidents' wing-tips, style of haircut, or brand of necktie.
Secondly, while I'm a great believer in character development, this book opened with that...and stayed with that...in the absence of an opening bullseye-salvo to grab my interest. I never did find out what the 'thriller' aspect of this book is, because it draggggggged on so, that I gave up before it got into the nuts and bolts of the story.
In sum, someone needs to openly say that this book is for people who love romantic intrigue, fashion, and interpersonal relationships. The political 'thriller' component of it, whenever it finally occurred (?), was given, at best, 3rd place priority.