First Ladies of Faith; Presidents' Wives Shown in Book in Biblical Light

Article excerpt

Byline: Alison Hoover, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In her new book, "The Faith of America's First Ladies," Jane Hampton Cook views the wives of presidents through the famous biblical description of a "virtuous" wife in Proverbs 31, which declares: "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land."

Mrs. Cook, who will speak at the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute's luncheon today at the Heritage Foundation, designed the first presidential campaign Web site for Laura Bush's husband, and has since redesigned the site since President Bush took office.

A graduate of Baylor University with a master's degree from Texas A&M, Mrs. Cook now lives in Vienna, Va., with her husband, Department of Homeland Security official John Kim Cook, and their son. The following excerpts are from a telephone interview with Mrs. Cook:

Question: In "The Faith of America's First Ladies," you sometimes refer to "the first lady of a one-bedroom apartment." Aside from the traditional idea of the first lady as the president's wife, what was the definition you had in mind for a first lady as you were writing?

Answer: I had in mind someone who looks to God for her value and then looks at her roles in life as opportunities to allow God to shine through her and use her talents to the fullest.

Q: Who is your intended audience?

A: Women of all ages and backgrounds, but primarily women of faith.

Q: What gave you the idea to write "The Faith of America's First Ladies," and what was your goal in writing it?

A: When I left the White House, I had the opportunity to do some research on the White House. I came across some amazing little-known stories on the White House that really inspired me that I had to write about. I also came across a proverb about womanhood that would be a great metaphor for a book about first ladies.

My goal was to encourage and inspire readers about their own life and faith in their own life through the faith and stories of first ladies and through the concept found in Proverbs 31, which is a passage that has inspired both the Jewish and Christian faiths for many generations.

Q: As the mother of a young son, which first lady's story is most inspiring to you?

A: Barbara Bush's ability to laugh at life and carry herself with strength and dignity as Proverbs 31:25 indicates has inspired me to really not take life so seriously and to enjoy motherhood.

Q: Each chapter of the book included at least one fictionalized story about a first lady that was based on research. …