First Affair

I usually love a good piece of fiction by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin, the geniuses who brought us The Nanny Diaries lo those many years ago, because of their realistic yet humorous dramatization of young twenty-somethings’ romantic, professional and familial situations. First Affair promised just that, at first, but let me down a bit toward the end.

Jamie McAlister is fresh out of college with no real job in sight, so after applying to all possible unpaid internships she finally gets a bite. From the White House. Jamie relocates from Vassar to DC, amazed at the oppressive humidity and trust fund babies surrounding her in every square inch of the nation’s capital. Her internship is with the department that plans the President’s and First Lady’s schedules and travel accommodations, and while completing one particular errand she runs into the President in one of the secret areas of the White House while he is having a panic attack. Jamie, a seasoned veteran in panic attacks due to a rather upsetting childhood (alcoholic father, delinquent sister, clueless mother, etc.), helps the President to calm down and then proceeds to make out with him. (Yep, it’s that kind of book.)

So Jamie continues to make out with, and engage in other physical activities with, the President of the United States all summer long. For reasons which I cannot fathom in a post-Lewinsky world, Jamie TELLS VARIOUS PEOPLE about this beyond inappropriate relationship, and because the President is already being questioned about ANOTHER extramarital affair from before he was the President of the United States and because the wrong people find out about Jamie, she becomes part of a larger investigation. And that’s where they lose me.

The story starts to go into the FBI and OIC and RNC and Supreme Court and indicting and who’s lying to whom and who’s being set up by whom, and it all gets very confusing. You also learn that Jamie had a sexual relationship with a married man when she was a teenager, and that man continued to have sexual relationships with other teenage girls after her, and that somehow has something to do with the case against the President, and it all just gets to be too much and is not really tied together well. So the book starts out super juicy — and a bit trashier than what I’m used to from Kraus and McLaughlin — but at a certain point it gets too complicated and too I’ve-heard-this-story-before. Somewhat disappointing.


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