Cover Image: Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals, and Hidden Agendas of Eight Political Wives

Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals, and Hidden Agendas of Eight Political Wives

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Member Reviews

I admit it, I’m somewhat fascinated by the weirdly dramatic episodes that have played out in “political marriages” over the past thirty years or so. When I was growing up, we had Presidents who were philanderers (the Kennedys) and criminals (Nixon). But there wasn’t a 24-hour news dump with details about the sex lives, scandals, etc. — seriously, the press didn’t even show us FDR’s LEGS, let alone tell us about the relationship between him and Eleanor. Maybe it just got really sleazy when the Clintons were in the White House — I kept thinking TMI! TMI! as  we learned more and more about  private behavior (calling it a “relationship” is a stretch) and speculation about why people stay married, and what the real story is.  (Often none of our business, except that it becomes our business when a leader is subject to blackmail or somehow the relentless gossip impacts everything in a politician’s life.)

I was fascinated by the premise of Anne Michaud’s book Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals, and Hidden Agendas of Eight Political Wives, so was pleased to get a copy from Ogunquit/New York Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Arranged chronologically, having just watched the series “Atlantic Crossing” featuring FDR’s relationship with the Crown Princess of Norway, I dove right in to the first chapter on Franklin and Eleanor. I knew that he was openly involved with others, and that Eleanor created her own life. Reading this, I once again felt sad for her — “By staying in the marriage, Eleanor believed she was doing the right thing for their five children and her husband.” But what about HER? <sigh>

I wasn’t terribly interested in Marion Stein and Jeremy Thorpe, and I admit I stopped reading about David and Wendy Vitter once I got to the diaper part (!!). Two very strong women who clearly could have made their own way in the world (without being half a marriage that I consider horrible), Silda Wall (Elliot Spitzer) and Huma Abedin (Anthony Weiner) both remain puzzling to me. And then there is Melania. I had less than zero respect for her before I read this, and yet I liked her even LESS after reading it. 

For most of the women, I felt like I did about Carmela Soprano: she KNEW and still she chose to stay and enjoy the money/fame/power that came with her marriage. In any case, interesting tidbits throughout that will entertain political junkies as well as voyeurs. Four stars.
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I loved the way Michaud presented these stories by using the White Queen Quotient.  The White Queen Quotient looks at five reasons and/or characteristics of relationships that lead to a woman staying with a man who has been unfaithful to her. It opened my eyes to some of the reasons, other than just pure loyalty and desire for power, that women while stand by their men after public sex scandals.  I also thought it was very interesting that Michaud wove together the childhood experiences of both people in the relationships and tied in how those upbringings seemed to at times have ties to how these relationships played out.
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Wow this book was wildly entertaining. Sometimes you definitely question why they stay but this book logically lays out exactly why they do. This would be awesome as a audio book.
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This book was a fast and fun read. Unfortunately, it only further disillusioned me on the types of people we have governing us. It was only a 4-star book, but because of the honesty it expressed I am giving it an extra star.
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