Title: State of the Union
Author: Douglas Kennedy
First published November 22, 2005
629 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780099468295 (ISBN10: 0099468298)
In State of the Union, Douglas Kennedy spins a story of ordinary life that takes an unexpected turn. Hannah Buchan, raised in the tumultuous 1960s, rejects her parents’ counterculture lifestyle and instead seeks a quiet family life in Maine.
But the constraints of normality begin to chafe, and Hannah finds herself drawn to rebellion. When a chance encounter puts her in a dangerous position, Hannah makes a decision that will haunt her for decades to come.
Now, as her secret threatens to destroy everything she has built, Hannah must confront the past and fight for her future. Kennedy’s gripping narrative will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
About the Author
In 1955, Douglas Kennedy was born in Manhattan. He attended Bowdoin College in Maine and Trinity College in Dublin.
In 1977, he returned to Dublin with only a trenchcoat, backpack, and $300. There, he helped establish a theatre company and sold his first play, Shakespeare on Five Dollars a Day, to Radio 4 in 1980.
After moving to London in 1988, Kennedy published a travel book called Beyond the Pyramids. His first novel, The Dead Heart, was released in 1994.
Douglas Kennedy’s “State of the Union” is a political thriller that explores the autobiographical journey of a New York columnist, Hannah Buchan, as she grapples with love, politics, and her own sense of morality. Published on November 22, 2005, the novel is a complex, multilayered work of fiction that is tinged with Kennedy’s personal experience as an expatriate in Europe.
The novel has a fast-paced, engrossing narrative style that combines political intrigue with complex character development. Kennedy explores issues such as patriotism, political ideology, international terrorism, and the media’s disinformation.
The story is set against the backdrop of the Iraq war and the anti-war sentiment in America. The novel is primarily centered around Hannah Buchan, who is a successful columnist at a major New York newspaper.
Her world is turned on its head when she meets an enigmatic and charismatic British minister, David Hennessey. Buchan and Hennessey quickly fall in love, and this love story becomes inextricably intertwined with the political drama that plays out in the novel.
As Hennessey becomes embroiled in a scandal involving the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Buchan must decide where her loyalties lie: with her own American identity or with the man she loves, who is a British citizen. Kennedy’s writing style is both poetic and suspenseful.
The story is unpredictable and builds to a thrilling climax. Kennedy’s characters are complex and nuanced, and he does a masterful job of exploring the moral gray areas that arise in any political conflict.
The novel’s biggest strength is how it addresses contemporary political issues within the framework of a fictional narrative. While the novel is set during the early years of the Iraq War, Kennedy is able to explore themes that are still relevant today, such as the media’s responsibility to report the truth, the role of anthropolitics, and the impact of war on civilians.
That being said, the novel does have some limitations. At times, the story can feel slightly contrived, and some of the characters’ motivations are not always clear.
Additionally, while the novel is written from the perspective of an American protagonist, Kennedy’s own expatriate background may limit his ability to truly understand and represent American perspectives. Overall, “State of the Union” is a compelling and thought-provoking novel that is sure to resonate with readers who are interested in politics or contemporary literature.
I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fast-paced thrillers with rich character development and a strong political bent. I give it a rating of four out of five stars.