My husband, a close follower of current events and an American presidents enthusiast, chose Advise and Consent by Allen Drury for me to read this year as part of my 2016 Reading Challenge. Written in the late 1950s by a political reporter, Advise and Consent is a fictional inside look at the United States Senate as it handles the confirmation of a controversial nominee for Secretary of State.
At 600 pages, Advise and Consent is not a quick read, yet once the plot really gets going, you cannot help but read through it quickly. I chose to read the novel in March, knowing that a week off of work for spring break would allow me to spend extra time on it. I could have read it at almost any time in the school year, however, as I found it fascinating and almost couldn’t put it down.
What struck me the most upon beginning the novel was the respect that Senators on both sides of the aisle have for one another. They may disagree on the Secretary of State nomination and dearly want to be on the winning side of the confirmation hearing, but they (with one notable exception) are not malicious to one another. How different from the American politics of today in which bipartisanship is a rare thing indeed. And when that one notable exception–a young, zealous Senator wanting to win at all costs–makes his devastating last move, the Senate bands together against him, citing his disrespect of the history of the Senate and its people and practices as reason enough to make him inconsequential in the future.
What kept me reading the novel were its many twists and turns and its flawed characters that broke my heart one moment and had me cheering them on the next. Advise and Consent won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1960, and I think it was well-deserved. The writing is excellent and the storytelling even better. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.