Cover Image: Our American Friend

Our American Friend

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Already one of the most anticipated books for 2022, Pitoniak expertly crafts an atmospheric sense of place and a shockingly irresistible cast of characters--some with traits all too familiar to readers. The candid moments between First Lady Lara Caine and her biographer Sofie Morse are riveting and surprising. From Russia to Paris to New York to Washington (and elsewhere), the tale spun flips the script on power and who actually holds it. Those searching for more KGB to D.C. stories are in for a real treat
Was this review helpful?
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to review Our American Friend. Wow! This book is AWESOME!! This story will grab you by the shoulders and pull you right in! I spent some time wondering where the story was taking me, but once the pieces came together, wow! Did they ever come together!! Read this book. You won't regret it.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Caution:  Minor spoilers ahead.

To be honest, this was a bit of an unsatisfying read.  I liked the author’s writing style and the whole premise of the plot line, that the First Lady was a spy in her younger days.  The book does wander a bit with long-winded descriptions of mundane things, which tends to take your focus away from the story at hand.

The main character is Sophie, a White House correspondent who decides she has had enough of President Henry Caine, and decides to resign when he wins a second term.  What did he do that was so terrible?  It’s a bit of a letdown as it was never explained beyond the fact that all of society’s ills are his fault.  As you continue to read, the unanswered question just seems to rankle.  Then Sophie gets a surprising call from the First Lady, Lara, who wants Sophie to write her biography.  I couldn’t understand why Sophie would do so after thinking it amoral or immoral to have anything to do with the Caine administration.  However, she says her curiosity got the better of her.  Unfortunately, she holds others to a higher standard by setting herself apart, which doesn’t seem to fit the way the author intends Sophie’s role to be portrayed.

The story unfolds as Russian-born Lara and her mother are interviewed by Sophie, shifting back and forth in time.  It’s a smooth transition, but some of the storytelling just becomes tedious.  Lara’s father was KGB, living in Paris during the Cold War.  The teen-aged Lara meets up with Sasha, a young Russian dissident and the two fall in love.  Unfortunately, Sasha had been working with the CIA, and he soon meets an untimely death. Then Lara drops the bomb on Sophie that she continued Sasha’s work.  The plot then becomes a contrived storyline and falls flat.

https://candysplanet.wordpress.com/
Was this review helpful?
When I started Our American Friend I let out a big, old groan when I realized the President in this story is similar to past president Trump. Having lived through that administration, I had no interest in reading about it. Boy, am I glad I stuck with this book. The story is not about the president. It is about his intensely private, Russian wife. 

Sofie Morse was tired of covering current politics under President Caine, so she quits her job. She is shocked when she is summoned by the first lady, Lara Caine, to the White House. Mrs. Caine has selected Sofie to write her biography. Sofie is skeptical, yet accepts the job. 

Mrs. Caine's story told from differing points in time, is fascinating and a thriller. It's also a story she has never told before.

This was one of those books I kept telling myself I'd read 'just one more chapter.'
Was this review helpful?
Our American Friend is a story about a secretive First Lady, a inquisitive journalist and a few friends in between. It’s a cross between a Cold War historical fiction and a fictional biography. 

Sofie is a American journalist who gets the opportunity of a life time: to write the biography of the First Lady. 

Lara Caine, the First Lady of the US has a interesting past. She was born in the Soviet Union and her father worked for the KGB. As Sofie gathers more info for her book she discovers she might be in too deep. 

I’m not sure how I feel about this one! I don’t really understand why Sofie was part of the plot. She was considered the main character but she was also very bland and had no personality. The President and First Lady reminded me too much of Trump and Melania for my liking. The transitions were not good at all, it was abrupt and confusing. In relation to other historical fictions this one is rated pretty low on the list. 

If you like political historical fictions or stories of the Cold War, this one might do it for you!
Was this review helpful?
I couldn’t put down this spy thriller. Loved the set up here: the First Lady hires a journalist to write her biography and the writer must decide whether or not to preempt the biography with newsworthy information.
Was this review helpful?
This book was a good espionage thriller. I enjoyed moving back and forth between Sofie's and Lara's perspectives. Knowing how Sofie and Lara met made it seem like we were reading the biography during Lara's sections, which gave an added dimension to the reading experience. The book was well-paced and never dragged. Some of the justification for characters' motivation fell flat, and I felt like I missed the climax or "big reveal" of the main scandal--or it could be that it was so briefly mentioned and then the plot moved on so that the scale of it was not as impactful. Due to the jumps in time during narration, it was sometimes difficult to know what time period the story was in (past Sofie vs present day Sofie). Overall, this book was an enjoyable reading experience and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Cold War era or espionage.
Was this review helpful?
Well this is a flash back to the Trump presidency. 

As a whole, super solid political thriller. It’s engrossing and gives a little more depth to fictional characters who not so subtly mirror their real life counterpart. As much as I enjoyed the read, the similarities made it a bit too stressful at times. But overall, it was well written, paced well and engaging. The characters were well developed (dare I say better than they are in real life) and the plot came together well. If political thrillers are your thing, definitely worth the read. 

Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC!
Was this review helpful?
Narcissistic president, Russian model turned wife, the similarities are endless but the woman at the heart of this book is much more than an arm trophy. She's flawed and loyal, scared and brave, and accomplishes so much at such a steep price.
Was this review helpful?
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. When I read the description, I was intrigued because the Cold War fascinates me, as a child of the 80s and lover of the show The Americans. I thought maybe there would be spy drama like other books I've loved and also really liked Pitoniak's debut book. 

I felt that there were too many similarities to the former guy and his wife to truly enjoy this book. Maybe if we were further removed from the consequences of the former president and his administration, but the parts I was more interested in weren't the focus. I will definitely give this author another try though.
Was this review helpful?
Wow just wow. I couldn't put this book down. Do yourself a favor and make this book your next read! As I said, must read!
Was this review helpful?
I am a fan of Anna Pitoniak and have enjoyed all her previous novels. This one was no exception. It was smart, entertaining, interesting, and impossible to put down.
Was this review helpful?
I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for this e-ARC.

I did not like this book. It was too slow-paced! And the chapters were a trek and a half to get through! I didn’t enjoy the story and it felt like a burden reading this book. Not for me, apparently.
Was this review helpful?
I haven't read a political thriller before, and feel this one definitely delivers. 

A journalist gets a break of a lifetime--writing the biography of the elusive First Lady. 

The journey this book takes is a twisty and gasp-worthy one. 

Definitely recommend!
Was this review helpful?
If a political thriller about a Donald/Melania Trump alternate universe sounds appealing to you, you'll want to pick up Our American Friend. I'd probably rate this one more of a 3.5, but rounding up because I haven't read a book like this recently (ie. I am getting tired of the same old recycled plots and this was a nice break).

I find myself wanting to comment on particular things I liked that will give away spoilers, so I won't, but I had fun with the time jumps and secrets behind closed doors. It was as if the author had a fever dream in which Melania Trump was more than meets the eye and just ran with it - so fun. My only real criticism is that the author tried to pack one too many elements in there. Could have benefitted from a little simplicity towards the end. But it kept me interested and attentive the whole time.
Was this review helpful?
It was a good book. I enjoyed reading this book. Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
This book was not what I expected- not sure what I was really expecting but it definitely beat my expectations. It was a gripping and plot twisting story. I enjoyed the way the author allowed you to get comfortable with the story line and then turned it over and made you question everything you had read so far. I also enjoyed the double timeline- past and present. It forces you to continually question how did it go from then to the present. The themes pushed me to question who really was I when being honest with myself, what did I truly believe in and what do I believe because I’m told to, and how far would I go for something I believed it. This was a well crafted story that took some difficult concepts and put them in an interesting and .drama filled story that kept you guessing until the very end.
Was this review helpful?
When free Lance journalist Sofie Morse is invited to write an authorized biography of Lara Caine, the wife of the President, she can't resist the opportunity to discover who the real woman is behind the former model who married the American billionaire soon after she left her native Russia and came to America in search of a better life. Normally an exceedingly reticent woman, she had installed her family in the White House - her mother and sister as well as the daughters she had with Caine In a relationship that grows increasingly intimate, Sofie learns more than anyone else knows about Lara - including the President And it's not until the last few pages that Sofie learns not only Lasts Caine's stunning secrets, but why she chose her to share them with the world . Carefully paced and deeply involving, this is a novel that will resonate in the readers mind with a "What if?" long after she finishes it
Was this review helpful?
A political thriller that centers around the wife of a Trump like president. Initially I was not sure what to expect and was hoping this wouldn’t be a dissertation on Trump politics. I am happy to say that this book was not at all a narrative on current politics. Lara Caine is a complex character that I cycled between loving and hating. The development of all the characters was fantastic and the story captured me! I had to drop a star because I felt like Sophie’s character was flat and I could not help but feel like she had a “woe is me” outlook. Overall, this is a fantastic read!

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58070057
Was this review helpful?
I appreciate having had an opportunity to read and review this book. The appeal of this particular book was not evident to me, and if I cannot file a generally positive review I prefer simply to advise the publisher to that effect and file no review at all.
Was this review helpful?