Title: Madam President
Author: Nicolle Wallace
Publication Date: 4/28/15
How I Found It: NetGalley
Date Completed: 4/4/15
Summary: Three powerful women of Washington contribute their stories of one day in (fictional) White House history. While President Charlotte Kramer, Secretary of Defense Melanie, and Press Secretary Dale start out working through a normal day, things change quickly when the country comes under attack.
What I Thought: I really wanted to like this book. Actually, I wanted to love it. I adore the idea of a primarily female administration, such as depicted here. And, as well documented here on the blog, I am big into behind-the-scenes stuff on world leaders. The fact that I'm currently watching through The West Wing for about the 10th time speaks to that.
Yet, for all its attempt at reaching audiences like me, I just don't think Madam President has the votes. Ok, sorry, that was a sad political pun. But seriously...this book just didn't capture me the way I know it was intended to.
I found the plot pretty unbelievable. Not the 9/11-style terrorism which, despite being a main plot point used to advertise the book, doesn't begin until halfway into the book; I actually found the imagined attacks on American soil to be completely plausible. Rather, it was the characters themselves I found unbelievable. Dale, the Press Secretary, used to be a reporter having an affair with the President's husband. Upon finding out about the long-term affair, the President promoted her to be the face of the White House, rather than kicking her sorry butt out of her house. I simply cannot buy that. No matter how magnanimous President Kramer may be, a trait she doesn't even seem to have that much of in every other scenario in the book, she would never promote her husband's mistress to a position for which she was not really qualified. Oh, and speaking of qualified, how did a fallen-out-of-favor Chief of Staff become Secretary of Defense? As I said, I love the idea of a nearly all female administration, but you're going to have to convince me these women are actually qualified. Having them there as pretty faces does no one any good. Show me they were the best candidates!
On top of their mysterious paths to important positions, I did not find any of the three main characters all that likeable. Melanie certainly won out for me. She seemed the most rational. Yet, Wallace even throws her character for a hormonal trip by revealing she's secretly several months pregnant. Dale, who is supposed to be in this loving, committed relationship with a reporter now tries to reignite things with the First Gentleman (is that what we're calling it? I guess we won't know until 2016...) in the midst of crisis. The President herself puts her job above all else; while I respect that and, for the most part, believe that's how it should be, her character comes across looking as though she cares more for her two best friends, who just happen to be visiting and in on all the important stuff, than her own husband or children.
Overall, I just could not get connected to this book. Case in point: a main character died and I couldn't even remember who he was. I had to flip back several chapters to remind myself. When characters are so distraught over a death and I can't even remember who the guy was...that's not a great sign.
Will I Re-Read: Doubtful
A Reduced Review: This valiant attempt at letting a primarily female administration shine instead comes across muddled and emotionally confused.