By titling her campaign memoir “…And His Lovely Wife” — a sarcastic cringe at the stump-speech cliché — Connie Schultz makes her intentions clear. She maneuvers past politics’ vapid buzzwords and false diplomacy to create an unusually honest political memoir, irreverent and vivid.
Candid, surprising moments include a very personal account of how Schultz and her husband, Sherrod Brown, belatedly decided he should run for the U.S. Senate, plus glimpses of the campaign’s early struggles and a meeting that set Brown’s advertising strategy, including whether to use attack ads. Poignant chapters about Schultz’s family, especially her late father, weave into the campaign story surprisingly well. Not wanting to make nice like political-spouse memoirists past, Schultz sometimes reveals her thin skin and grudges — complaining repeatedly about right-wing bloggers’ jabs and woundedly recounting friction at The Plain Dealer over her clashing roles as co-worker and candidate’s spouse.
Since Brown won in a landslide, there’s no suspense at the end except at a tense White House reception with a gracious President Bush, a frosty Vice President Cheney and Bush’s strategist Karl Rove (who makes polite small talk). And though you can’t knock Schultz for adoring her husband, her portrayal of him with few faults deeper than his wrinkled shirts naturally means no Cleveland conservative will make it past Chapter One. But local Schultz and Brown fans, plus national readers new to her writing and his politics, will enjoy her campaign-trail storytelling, equal parts wit, anger and warmth.