The First Affair: Book summary and reviews of The First Affair by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

The First Affair by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus X
The First Affair by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2013
    256 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

In the latest novel from #1 New York Times bestselling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, a woman looks back at her summer internship at the White House when she was seduced by the President of the United States and drawn into a complex affair destined to destroy both her and the presidency.

Following college, Jamie McAllister wins a prestigious internship at the White House that she has no idea will irrevocably alter her life. An unexpected flirtation with the handsome and charismatic Gregory Rutland quickly leads to an emotional relationship she is ill equipped to handle at twenty-two. Each time she tries to extricate herself Greg is unable to find the strength to let her go.

As Greg's conflicting desires drive her to the breaking point, Jamie can't help but reveal intimate details to those closest to her. But she must have unburdened herself to the wrong person - because within a matter of weeks Jamie finds herself, and everyone she loves, facing highly calculated destruction at the hands of Greg's political enemies.

With her every mistake dragged out for the world to judge, Jamie has to endure an unprecedented trial in the court of public opinion - with the fate of the President, his party, and the country at stake.

Now, years later, can the woman infamously known as the "girl in the blue dress" make sense of this affair, and the trauma it wrought, for the world - and for herself?

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Media Reviews

"McLaughlin and Kraus draw heavily from the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, but just as they humanized a pop princess in their last outing, here they offer up a convincing portrait of a damaged young woman whose head is turned by the attentions of a dashing and powerful political figure. This compassionate examination of a young woman led astray is an utterly absorbing page-turner." - Booklist

"Jamie is initially hard to sympathize with, but her unreliability as a narrator and complexity as a character add an interesting dimension to a story that might otherwise have seemed trashy and exploitative." - Publishers Weekly

"A dishy, sometimes somber, scandalous tale of what happens when you fall in love with the president of the United States." - Kirkus

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Reader Reviews

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Jane H. (Prospect, KY)

First Affair
Yes, it's the tired old story we've all heard before ... BUT ... what I found interesting as the story unfolded was the authors' attentiveness to all the side stories. It's hard to feel sympathy for what is admittedly a stupid act on the part of both main characters, but the ripple effect to friends, family, acquaintances as the story unfolds is quite interesting, and IS perhaps a tale that hasn't been fully examined before. Admittedly, some of the people draw themselves into the story for their own greedy reasons, but some people get drawn into the vortex in totally unexpected ways. I thought it was a sad look at what one sad lustful evening can do to the rest of your life as well as the lives of others. It was a quick read -- finished it in about four hours - but I have to say I enjoyed the ability of the writers to hold my attention with this new perspective on an old story.

Toby S. (Seattle, WA)

Close to the truth? Fiction? Decide for yourself.
This is a very quick read and I read this chick-lit book in several hours. I generally enjoy some chick-lit novels but this one was somewhat disturbing to me. It's a story about a fictional young White House female Intern who is tempted initially by the president to start an affair with him but falls in love with him. I'm sure this book will sell well as many readers will be enticed by the subject. But it's actually fictional, (which must be stressed) The intern is a product of the authors' imaginations and is portrayed quite sympathetically. The president is a less convincing character in this novel. His motivations don't quite ring true to me. The style of the authors' prose is "contemporary slick" and filled with "clever" turns of words in the style of previous books written by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (one was "the Nanny Diaries") which was a best seller and which I enjoyed much more than this book. It's probably because I was a bit disturbed by the topic since it the authors based the novel on a scandalous, painful, sensational and demeaning true event.


The First Affair
I was really looking forward to reading this book since I enjoyed The Nanny Dairies by the same authors, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. But as someone else mentioned, with a change of names, you have the Monica Lewansky story all over again. The subject was painful to me then and reading the book was equally painful. I kept asking myself how Jamie could fall so deeply in love in such a short time and imagine a future together with so little commitment on Greg's part. You had to read a lot more into the affair than was evident within it's pages. It was interesting to see the impact this affair and the outcome played on family members and others connected with the story. I hadn't considered that previously. Basically I'm just wondering why we had to rehash this painful topic once again.


I had problems with this book
I would like to give this book two ratings – one rating for Part 1 of the book and a different rating for the remainder. I have no idea how the two authors collaborated on writing the book (and this most likely has nothing to do with my problem) but it seemed to me as if a different writer took over midway through it.

My rating for the first half would be a 1- (a one minus). I had a very hard time getting used to the combination of the writing style and the vocabulary. The vocabulary may have been a generational thing – this story was about the experiences of a current day young college graduate on her very first job (named Jamie) while I am a female 79 year old enjoying retirement at an independent living facility. I am not completely an out-of –touch old coot but my tastes in most everything are probably miles away from Jamie’s. Nevertheless, there were too many references in the book to things like “airnb sublets” or “the Bianca of Washington” – does it date me to admit I had to check out what these meant by going on-line? Also, there were too many sentences where I finally did figure out what was meant, but it is distracting when you have to think about it before going on.

My rating for the last part of the book would be a 3.5 or even a 4. While I had to push myself to continue reading the first part; I actually enjoyed the last part of the book. I was intrigued by the mystery of who the whistle blower was and whether Jamie would finally begin to tell the truth. Her loyalty deserves a halo but her lack of common sense was ridiculous.

I am not sure how the public will accept the very obvious connection between this story and the Monica Lewinsky affair. It did not bother me and I smiled ever so often recognizing the obvious twists in the story to keep us thinking about the Lewinsky and Clinton affair complete with the blue dress on the cover. As I read it, I wondered whether the variations in the story which departed from that well publicized affair were intentional or whether there were many things that seemed to be entirely the fictional imagination of the writer but were actually unknown parts of Monica’s situation. Of course, there were sufficient differences to make it in the end a fictional story of its own making.

My final comment is that I do not believe I would recommend this book to others. I must admit that it does not depart from how it was described by the publisher so I got just what I asked for when I signed up to read it and I also am not sorry that I took the time to finish reading it, but it was not a memorable read and does not reach anywhere near the level of good writing or excellent plot that I require before recommending a book to a friend. I would rate it as equivalent to one of the Harlequin Romance books I read years and years ago as I entered menopause and needed a boost.

Cheryl K. (East Aurora, NY)

The First Affair
This book is a story we've heard many times, but with a different slant. To me, it is a cross between the Kennedy "affairs" and the Clinton fiasco. I found it very difficult to empathize with any of the characters, as they stumbled and lied their way through the book. The main character, Jamie McAllister is another product of a totally dysfunctional family. Her affair with the President, Gregory Rutland, is textbook disaster. It is an easy read and probably best suited for the beach. I would not recommend it to my book club as there is very little to discuss that we haven't already read about in the tabloids many times.

Linda M. (Windsor, CA)

The First Affair
I was extremely disappointed with The First Affair. I should have expected chick lit given the authors' previous books and the subject matter, but I was hoping for a fresh approach to a rehash of this distasteful subject. I thought the dialogue in the beginning of the book tried too hard to be hip and witty. I was bewildered by the protagonist's never seeming to be starstruck at obtaining a White House internship - she was always looking beyond it without ever seeming to revel in the honor for a moment. The author made clear she had debts to repay, therefore explaining the need for a paying job, but really ... not to just wallow in the honor of the internship for a little bit! I thought the unraveling of the truth at the end was a bit much - who should she not have trusted? Speaking of that, she told so many people of the so-called affair - surely someone in that position would have more sense? I didn't think the President's character was developed as much as it should have been - I didn't get a good sense of him as a person. I kept picturing Fitz from TV's Scandal and would then shake that image out of my mind. This President was no Fitz. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

...1 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus Author Biography

Pic: Melanie Dunea

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus met at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where they both graduated with concentrations in Arts and Education. Before teaming up to write The Nanny Diaries, Kraus had continued in the arts and McLaughlin worked as a business consultant within the private and public sectors.

Newsweek declared McLaughlin and Kraus's The Nanny Diaries a 'phenomenon.' It is a number one New York Times best-seller and the longest-running hardcover best-seller of 2002. In 2007 The Nanny Diaries was released as a major motion picture starring Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney and Alicia Keys.

McLaughlin and Kraus have appeared numerous times on CNN, MSNBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, and The View. ...

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