American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld Black Swan, HK$114 There are many reasons to check out American Wife. First, Curtis Sittenfeld wrote the excellent Prep, a fizzy take on the high school novel. Secondly, American Wife is a thinly veiled portrait of Laura Bush. Thirdly, it's quite brilliantly entertaining. Our heroine is Alice Blackwell, a bright and likeable sort who narrates her life with nuanced attention to detail - from an unremarkable childhood touched by tragedy through an unremarkable career as a teacher to her impressively efficient musings about boys: 'then I was naked except for my socks, which were white with lace trim'. Then she meets Charlie Blackwell ('As in the Blackwells'). Sittenfeld doesn't beat around her pseudo-Bush: 'He was undeniably handsome, but his bearing was cocky in a way I didn't like.' But before Alice could say 'Axis of Evil', she is in love with his 'mischievous eyebrow and a hawk nose with flaring nostrils'. Critics went wild for Sittenfeld's probing of 'George W's' sex life: his 'ruddy-hued upward-pointing shaft, its swollen veins and cap-like tip'. The novel's true power, however, rests squarely with Alice and her engaging account of how a life quite ordinary became extraordinary.