THE FIRST AFFAIR by Emma McLaughlin


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The authors of The Nanny Diaries have written a transparent account of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal through the perspective of the female protagonist.

Although the novel is placed in the present with our familiar political woes, the plot plays out identically to the events of the Clinton administration. As a recent grad, Jamie McAllister has little luck job hunting, but then her best friend’s mother pulls some strings, and Jamie finds herself as a White House summer intern in the government of Greg Rutland, a charmer with Robert Redford good looks. Amid the usual worries—finding a real job, student loans, family problems—President Rutland is encouraging and kind. And then their flirtation becomes something else. Document deliveries turn into bathroom quickies, with his secretary all but covering for these trysts. The president calls late at night to talk, and Jamie begins to fantasize about their future life together. Meanwhile, Rutland is getting ready to defend himself in a sexual harassment lawsuit (remember Paula Jones?), and aides suggest sending Jamie elsewhere, as she’s proven to be a distraction and potential liability to the president’s re-election campaign. Jamie is furious—she had finally gotten a real job at the White House (on her own merit)—and complains to her friends, many of whom know she’s having the affair. At this point, it is hard to muster sympathy for either Jamie and her imprudent naïveté or the president and his manipulations, but then the authors introduce Mike, Jamie’s first boyfriend, an adult sexual predator who seduced Jamie when she was 12. The president? Well, he has panic attacks, and his wife doesn’t understand him, and Jamie is so fresh and hopeful. But not after the trial. In a turn of events à la Linda Tripp, one of Jamie’s friends records their conversations, and soon, Jamie is on the witness stand regaling the world with humiliating details of her affair—her only option to prevent a prison term.       

A dishy, sometimes somber, scandalous tale of what happens when you fall in love with the president of the United States.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4516-4344-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2013


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