Maintaining the froideur that has won her little public support, First Lady Elizabeth Tyler MacMann needs to find the hottest lawyer in town to defend her in the biggest murder trial in America's history. And that means taking on the services of the fiance she dumped at law school in order to marry the then distinguished war hero who eventually becomes President. Serially divorced, Boyce Baylor is not surprised - he's the only attorney up to the job and he knows it. It's all going swimmingly - he's got it nailed, until his client decides she wants to take the stand and restore her reputation and he has no choice but to acquiesce. Throw in several egos the size of the White House, media-spin like there's no tomorrow, the old boy network, some very underhand business involving the FBI, a pregnancy, a few sex toys and a dose of Viagra and you're some way into this delicious farce - which becomes all the more delicious when you realise how small a leap of the imagination is required to get there.
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Christopher Buckley is not so much a novelist as a free-ranging satirist looking for targets. In Thank You for Smoking it was big tobacco and earnest reformers; in God Is My Broker it was business and religion; and in No Way to Treat a First Lady, it's the entire legal profession, not to mention the Washington establishment. The novel opens with the President of the United States returning to the conjugal bed after an illicit Lincoln Bedroom romp with the Streisandesque Babette Van Anka. His wife, the long-suffering Beth McMann, promptly clocks him with a Paul Revere spittoon. Several hours later he dies. "Lady Bethmac," as the First Lady is immediately dubbed by the media, is put on trial, and the resulting media circus gives Buckley lots of opportunity for nicely observed skewerings of legal culture. "Judge Dutch creaked forward in his chair. This is the source of the aura of judges: they have bigger chairs than anyone else. That and the fact that they can sentence people to sit in electrified ones. It's all about chairs." He gets in some neat neologisms--a lawyer performs a "credibilobotomy" on a witness--and sends up the pretensions of law TV: at a roundtable discussion, the guest from Harvard Law is invited "to provide gravitas and to shift uneasily in his seat when the other guests said something provocative." Buckley's Trial of the Millennium is so far-fetched that it seems entirely possible. --Claire DedererFrom the Back Cover:
"Unspeakably and endlessly funny. Unless you're a former president…Wicked humorist Buckley shoots fish in a barrel and makes them dance."
"The lurid sexual excesses of the late 90's provide plenty of comic fodder for Buckley's latest satire, which doubles as a legal thriller…The political humor is first-rate as usual, as Buckley has plenty of fun with the slimy, silly mess that is Beltway politics. This is one of his better efforts, which should keep Buckley on the "A' list of American satirists."
-Publishers Weekly (lead review)
“Buckley has surpassed himself....The result isn’t humorous; it’s hilarious.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“An exceedingly funny account of a White House scandal that
doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance—nudge nudge, wink wink—
to one that took place there only five short years ago.”
—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“This clever, gleeful satire . . . sets a high comic standard.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Christopher Buckley must have had a great time creating this satire that is part legal thriller, part love story and entirely over-the-top funny. But those who choose to pick it up can look forward to smart writing, memorable lines and more than a few belly laughs. [No Way to Treat a First Lady] doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure; it can be enjoyed and shared because it is simply smart and light and very funny.”
—The Denver Post
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