Kate Bennett, a CNN reporter, is the only journalist in the White house press corps to solely cover the first lady of the United States. This biography presents her look at the enigmatic Melania Trump and proposes that, behind the Slovenian stoicism, a strong, independent woman holds different positions and values than her husband does on many issues.
The title of the book provokes the reader’s interest: Is Melania Donald Trump’s prisoner? Or is she, “a woman who spent her childhood and formative years in a poor communist country, who speaks five languages, who privately spends her time visiting sick children… a fierce protector of her child?”
The book alternates between descriptions of the public perception of the first lady and the private citizen. The most fascinating accounts disclose her private side. Recall “the hand slap seen around the world?” In 2017, on the tarmac in Tel Aviv, Israel, when the President reached for his wife’s hand, she promptly slapped it away in an apparent flash of anger. Or, remember the elbow to her husband’s ribs before the White House Easter Egg Roll when the President was slow to put his hand over his heart for the national anthem?
Bennett reports that, when there were credible public allegations of the President’s sexual misconduct, his wife took a separate motorcade, which was unheard of until that time, from the White House to the Capitol for his State of the Union message. She has her own quarters in the White House, carving out her own suite on the third floor, while Donald resides on the second floor.
Bennett further contends the first lady has proven she can command the spotlight not only with her dark sunglasses and fashions but by efficiently running the East Wing. Melania has fired White House staff members when Donald did not act quickly enough for her. She is one of his most vocal advisors, claiming credit for convincing the President to soften his stance on immigration and for calling the opioid crisis to his attention.
Melania has taken a keen interest in the restoration of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She has redone parts of the Blue and Green Rooms and is fervent about preserving the history and historic nature of the White House.
This volume makes it obvious Melania does not need to be freed. She is a pillar of stability in the people’s house. Though a very private person and a reluctant first lady, she is carrying out her undefined position on her own modern terms.