Book Review: Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win

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Synopsis

“Charlotte Walsh is running for Senate in the most important race in the country during a midterm election that will decide the balance of power in Congress. Still reeling from a presidential election that shocked and divided the country and inspired by the chance to make a difference, she’s left behind her high-powered job in Silicon Valley and returned, with her husband Max and their three young daughters, to her downtrodden Pennsylvania hometown to run in the Rust Belt state.

Once the campaign gets underway, Charlotte is blindsided by just how dirty her opponent is willing to fight, how harshly she is judged by the press and her peers, and how exhausting it becomes to navigate a marriage with an increasingly ambivalent and often resentful husband. When the opposition uncovers a secret that could threaten not just her campaign but everything Charlotte holds dear, she has to decide just how badly she wants to win and at what cost.

spoilers ahead


I have been watching a ton of Scandal lately, and just recently watched Knock Down the House, so I guess it makes sense that I would end up reading this book! Actually, Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win has been on my TBR since last Fall and I have been very eager to read it. On the whole, I enjoyed it and thought it was a great read. It was different from what I’ve been reading lately, and it was nice to dip into something out of my comfort zone.

What I Liked

Since I enjoy contemporary fiction, I really enjoyed this book. It’s set in 2017 with events spurred from the 2016 election; how much more contemporary can you get than that? I liked the way the story was structured not by chapters but by the very important dates leading up to Charlotte’s primary election.

The characters were not boring, their personal lives were relatively intriguing, and there was a secret at the end that had serious ramifications for all the characters. As I neared the end of the book, I thought about the different ways it could turn out and what the ending might be; I questioned how I would choose to end the book if I had written it, and it turns out that’s how it ended. I was not surprised at all and it wasn’t a bad ending for me by any means.

What I Didn’t Like

My main dislikes just had to do with the characters, who probably aren’t people I would like in real life. One thing that was bugging me while reading was this: Charlotte has enough self-awareness to know when and how frequently she needs to get Botox treatments in order to look a specific way, but she lacks the self-awareness to accept that news stories will be built around what she wears? It was hard to believe that she would be as astounded as she was, for example, at all the focus that was placed on her flat shoes, worn instead of heels, to an event.

Charlotte and Max’s relationship is abhorrent. I could tell from the backstory provided that the way they fell into each other’s lives with no real rhyme or reason was going to be a recipe for disaster. There’s nothing worse than watching a character you like succumb to the Very Stupid Things About Her Husband and let them derail her life.

While it’s impossible to put yourself in the shoes of someone else who has had to make decisions you haven’t had to make, we all know it’s easy to judge them regardless. I think most female readers will have their judgments about Charlotte. I wish she had left Max at the end, but that’s just me.

Would I Recommend?

Yes! It’s a compelling and thought-provoking read that provides a lot of insights into what goes on in political campaigns in the U.S. especially primaries, and from the point of view of a female candidate.

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