For the past eight years, Laura Bush has maintained a perfect blend of optimism and stoicism despite her husband’s steadily plunging popularity. But it’s gotta hurt to be married to the man many call the worst president in U.S. history, right? Mrs. Bush isn’t blogging her daily thoughts and feelings on the matter, though, which opens the door for American Wife, in which Curtis Sittenfeld paints an intimate, sympathetic portrait of Alice Blackwell, a stand-in for Mrs. Bush. It may be unrealistic to imagine the real First Lady vehemently disagreeing with her husband’s policies and even voting, as Blackwell does, for her husband’s opponent, but Sittenfeld (whose first novel, Prep, paved the way for truckloads of prep-school lit and was a New York Times bestseller) can be lauded for writing a complex, undeniably fascinating portrait of the woman behind the perfectly coiffed hair and fresh coat of lipstick.

SITTENFELD READS FROM AND SIGNS COPIES OF HER WORK AT 7 P.M. AT POLITICS AND PROSE, 5015 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919.