Crittenden, Frum Have Write Stuff; Danielle Crittenden and David Frum Make Expository Writing a Family Affair, Tackling Issues Such as Motherhood, Feminist Liberalism and Presidential Politics

Insight on the News, July 22, 2003 | Go to article overview

Crittenden, Frum Have Write Stuff; Danielle Crittenden and David Frum Make Expository Writing a Family Affair, Tackling Issues Such as Motherhood, Feminist Liberalism and Presidential Politics


Byline: Stephen Goode, INSIGHT

Danielle Crittenden is author of the first novel ever serialized in the Wall Street Journal. Called Amanda Bright@home, it recently has appeared in hardback. Her husband, David Frum, is a former presidential speechwriter (he was responsible for the "Axis of Evil" phrase to refer to Iraq, Iran and North Korea) and was special assistant to President George W. Bush. He too is an author, most recently of The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush.

Amanda Bright@home is about a young, career-minded, feminist liberal who learns to appreciate the rewards of traditional motherhood. It's a comedy of manners that satirizes the way we live now: the unrealities of much of feminism, and our failures to live naturally and with common sense. It's full of unforgettable characters, most of whom are stunning in their self-absorption and inability to see themselves as they really are.

The Right Man is about Frum's coming to appreciate the president's impressive strength of character after an initial uncertainty about the man. "I distrusted his 'compassionate conservatism,'" Frum tells Insight. "I didn't know what it meant. I wondered whether it wasn't code for liberal Republicanism and whether we were going to see backbone and decisiveness from him." Says Frum: "He turned out to have remarkable backbone."

Crittenden is a former New York Post columnist whose articles have appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, National Review, Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook and Reader's Digest. She's also heard frequently on talk radio and less often on National Public Radio. Crittenden's TV appearances include Nightline, 20/20, and C-SPAN. She is founding editor of the Independent Women's Forum's newsletter, The Women's Quarterly.

Frum is a contributing editor to the National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. His articles are published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the Weekly Standard. He is a contributor to National Public Radio's Morning Edition program.

Picture Profile interviewed Crittenden and Frum in Danielle's handsome new office, constructed out of the former family garage. Two well-behaved dogs sat nearby. Through the windows grass glowed intensely green in the bright summer sun. At the other end of the lawn, the family pool looked alluring.

Insight: Amanda, the central character in Danielle's book, has an epiphany toward the end of the novel that's moving and true. She realizes that her life as a mother is a splendid one and these words come to her: "There is this moment, there is this person, there is this love, there is this life. That's all there is, and it is ... enough." So many of the people Amanda knows, including her mother, don't know this basic fact. They are so caught up in feminist ideology that they fail to see that a woman can find fulfillment in ways other than career success.

Danielle Crittenden: I think that kind of feminism no longer is so much an ideology as it is the conventional wisdom. When you think about it, my generation, like Amanda's, got virtually no preparation for motherhood. If your own mother happened to convey information, that was good. But the prevailing wisdom among your peers was that it was almost embarrassing even to talk about being a mother or wanting to be a mother.

Certainly when you were 22 or 23 it was absolutely the last thing on your mind. You thought about what you were going to do work wise. So when you got married, when you had children, you were not prepared for it, not prepared for the sharing of it and the sacrifices of it, not prepared for the experience of it.

We had to go through this incredible relearning of what you might think would come naturally. That's why it was important to me to take someone Amanda who was very heavily influenced by these ideas. That's why Amanda is a liberal, that's why she has a strongly feminist mother. …

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