"Stunning...Alf's life and times are light and funny; Buchanan's are dark and serious. Alternating between the two, Mr. Updike entertains and instructs...in gorgeous prose." THE WALL STREET JOURNAL When junior college professor Alfred Clayton is asked to record his impressions of the Ford Administration, he recalls a turbulent piece of personal history as well. In a decade of sexual liberation, Clayton was facing a doomed marriage and the passionate beginnings of a futile affair with an unattainable Perfect Wife. But one memory begets another: Clayton's unfinished book on James Buchanan. In John Updike's fifteenth novel, he masterfully alternates between the two men, two lives, two American centuries--one Victorian, the other modern--shining an irreverent, witty, and sometimes caustic light on the contrasting views of social fictions and sexual politics.... A MAIN SELECTION OF THE BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
I loved the way the book moved back and forth between the main character, Alf Clayton, his like during the early/mid '70's, and James Buchanan, a forgettable pre-Lincoln President
The Ford Administration part of the book is a humorous telling, in the typical Updike way, of the main character's life during the Presidency of Gerald Ford. He makes a point of reminding us of how uneventful Ford's presidency was by barely mentioning him or any significant acts in those years.