NO WAY TO TREAT A FIRST LADY
Christopher Buckley


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Random House, 2002
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
 
Comedy

Beth MacMann, the First Lady of the United States, has been charged with assassinating her husband, the President. In a fit of rage, Beth clocked her cheating husband in the head with a historic Paul Revere spittoon, when he slipped back into their bed after an evening with his mistress in the Lincoln Bedroom. She says she "didn't hit him that hard. He barely flinched," but when the maid brings Beth her breakfast the next morning, she finds the President was dead.

Babette Van Anka, singer and movie actress, is an activist and ardent supporter of the President. Her dedication to helping the Commander in Chief find bliss has given her the distinguished privilege of staying overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom 56 times.

Following the President's death, a media feeding frenzy surrounds the First Lady. Tabloids have nicknamed her Lady Bethmac. Beth asks "Shameless" Boyce Baylor to represent her at trial. When they were both law students at Georgetown University, she and Baylor were once engaged, until she met Ken MacMann. Ken had just returned a hero from Vietnam after serving time as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. Baylor has managed to turn his personal loss into a stunning law career representing famous athletes, spies and celebrities. Will the 'Trial of the Millennium' be Baylor's chance to get even with the woman who dumped him for the President of the United States, or will he clear her name and win another chance at love?

Nothing is sacred in this irreverent and screwball comedy that pokes fun at the Washington politicos. Though the introduction claims "...all characters herein are entirely the work of the author's own twisted imagination..."  you can't help but draw comparisons to public figures. For example in one scene, the First Lady tells the court she threw a lamp at the President, an injury that required four stitches, but the Chief of Staff told the media he choked on a pretzel, which caused him to fall and hit his head. If you follow political news at all you will find dozens of familiar incidents and events reframed in this hilarious alternate reality. NO WAY TO TREAT A FIRST LADY mocks all the Washington institutions, Democrats and Republicans evenhandedly, and lampoons many famous political personalities. Written with a fine sense of irony, Buckley has added a love story that will make you laugh out loud.

Christopher Buckley is former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush and the son of William F. Buckley, Jr.

 

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