Author: Nicolle Wallace
Publisher: Atria Books, April 28, 2015
Genre: Literary Fiction
Nicolle Wallace is one of the co-hosts on TV’s The View. Ms. Wallace has also been a communications director for George W. Bush and an advisor to Sarah Pallin when she was running for the vice-presidency.
Obviously, Ms. Wallace knows a bit about the kind of people who inhabit Washington D.C. And, she knows how the White House works, or at least, how it did work.
Ms. Wallace has taken her knowledge and experience and created three novels set in the U.S. capital. Her latest book, Madame President, features the first female president, Charlotte Kramer.
There are quite a few other people in the story, but primarily its about the president and two other women: Melanie, a close friend who used to be her chief of staff, but is now the Secretary of Defense, and Dale, a former staffer who had an affair with the President’s husband, but is now the Press Secretary. (Yeah, you read that right.)
The plot revolves around what happened on one particular day. Dale (the Press Secretary) persuaded Charlotte to allow two CBS anchors unfettered access to the White House so they could do a “24 Hour Day in the Life.” Their goal was to show what the occupants and employees of the White House do on an average day.
An average day is not what they get. On this particular day, there are five terrorist attacks in five different American cities. Its similar to what happened on 9/11. The author was working in the White House on 9/11 so she used her experience in this story.
This book is getting a lot of attention, I guess, because of the position of the author. I found the plot idea a plausible one, but the characters didn’t measure up. Seriously, what woman would hire her husband’s former mistress for one of her key jobs? Or what president would appoint a young woman of say late thirties/early forties into as key a role as Secretary of Defense? Or, for that matter, what group of senators would confirm her to that post?
I was hoping for so much more from the premise of this book. I thoroughly enjoy the new CBS drama Madame Secretary. I was hoping for something like that. Every episode of that show has substance to it coming from headlines along with complex characters.
I’ve read reviews that compare this book to the TV series West Wing. I find that comparison wrong and, actually, insulting. I’ve binge-watched that seven-season series so many times that I feel I’m a semi-expert on the show. Trust me, Madame President is nothing like West Wing, except for where it takes place.
Skip this one.