Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: The First Affair

Summary: The #1 New York Times bestselling authors of The Nanny Diaries return with “a convincing portrait of a damaged young woman whose head is turned by the attentions of a dashing and powerful political figure.…An utterly absorbing page-turner” (Booklist).

I was twenty-two years old only three weeks out of college.
I thought my whole life was beginning...then he kissed me.

Jamie McAlister has resigned herself to the fact that in this job market, her painfully expensive degree might only get her a position at Starbucks, when she suddenly lands a prestigious internship at the White House. Although she doesn’t hit it off with the other interns—who come from so much money that ten weeks without a paycheck doesn’t faze them—she is eager to work hard and make the best of the opportunity while it lasts.

An unexpected encounter late one evening with the charismatic President Gregory Rutland seems like just a fleeting flirtation, but when he orchestrates clandestine meetings and late-night phone calls, their relationship quickly escalates. Jamie knows what she is doing is wrong: he’s married, he has kids, he’s the President. Yet each time she tries to extricate herself, Greg pulls her back in.

With the conflicted desires of the most powerful man in the world driving her to her breaking point, Jamie can’t help but divulge intimate details to those closest to her. But she must have confided in the wrong person, because she soon finds herself, and everyone she cares about, facing calculated public destruction at the hands of Greg’s political enemies, and—perhaps no matter how much he cares about her—at the hands of Greg himself. -- Atria

I don't know what made me pick up THE FIRST AFFAIR by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. When I look back on the description, it's not a book that I normally would read. All I can figure is that I was in the mood for a light, chick-lit type of story; and these two authors have written a few books that I've enjoyed in the past so I figured, "Why not?" After reading THE FIRST AFFAIR, I have to say that I didn't love it. I think maybe it just wasn't a good fit for me.

THE FIRST AFFAIR tells the story of Jamie McAlister, a recent college graduate who found herself interning at the White House when she couldn't get a "real job" because of the stagnant economy. She doesn't really fit in with the other interns, but she's determined to make the best of it.

When the government shuts down due to a budget impasse, Jamie finds herself working late nights at the White House. One evening, she finds herself alone with the President and there is a mutual attraction. The flirting begins and it turns into a full-fledged affair. At this point, the story should sound somewhat familiar, right?

Jamie knows what she's doing is wrong but she can't seem to separate herself from the charismatic president. Of course, their secret is eventually revealed (you really can't trust anyone!) and Jamie's life is turned upside-down and never the same!

THE FIRST AFFAIR wasn't my cup of tea. I can't say that anything was wrong with the novel, but I just didn't love the story. In fact, I can't even tell you why I didn't appreciate this novel like I had hoped. It definitely wasn't the writing or the character development -- I just think this book wasn't for me. As a result, I waited months to write this review and wasn't even sure if I should write it. I'm not entirely sure my opinion is a fair one!

One of my main problems with this story was that I didn't really like Jamie. She wasn't a character that garnered my sympathy, and I don't think I cared about her enough to become fully vested in her story. I wanted to like her (and even root for her) when everything went down, but I just wasn't able to feel that way. I do believe that if she had resonated with me more, I probably would have ended up liking this novel.

Having said that, I did find Jamie kind of interesting and I think the authors did a good job of creating a complex character. Jamie was a tough nut to crack for me and I didn't always understand her, but I appreciated that about her in an odd way. Naturally, I couldn't help but compare her to Monica Lewinsky, and I admit that this novel caused me to see a few things differently about that whole situation.

Lastly, I did like that this novel was deeper than your typical chick-lit story. I was pleasantly surprised by how the authors handled the relationship and the eventual fall-out. And I do think, they gave readers some food for thought.

THE FIRST AFFAIR might make an interesting book club selection for some groups. There is a reading guide with twelve questions along with some ways to enhance your book club experience. Some of the themes you might want to explore include adultery, secrets, trust, relationships, honestly, power, and sex.

While THE FIRST AFFAIR wasn't a book that I loved, there are definitely readers out there who will appreciate this story. Recommended to fans of chick lit and readers who were interesting in the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

Yeah, the plot doesn't sound too appealing to me either. Maybe we're too old for it?

Beth F said...

What a shame. I hate it when a perfectly fine book just doesn't seem to resonate with me