I have yet to read "The Secret Lives of the Presidents" but I picked this up because I am really interested in women's history. This book is a decent portrait or how the role of First Lady has evolved and yet stayed the same (I'm not sure if this is possible, but this books makes it appear to be).
What I found really interesting were the differences and similarities of these women: the number of women who never wanted to be first lady and the ones who relished the role; which ones were for and against suffrage and women's rights; the ones who were "just a spouse" vs. the ones who seemed to have a great partnership with their husbands; who loved being a hostess and who relegated the chore to someone else; for some reason I was amazed at the number of philanderers who made it to the White House and yet all of their wives stuck by them (I believe Hilary Clinton was the only one who suffered the negative effects of this) ... I found it noteworthy that out of all of the First Ladies, only Hilary Clinton and Eleanore Roosevelt were credited with a possible extramarital affair.
The beginning of each chapter lists some biographical information on the Ladies (life span, spouses, years in the White House, number of children) and I loved that their religions and astrological signs were included, along with a nifty quote. It was nice of Cormac O'Brien to include the wives who didn't make it to the White House because of divorce or premature death.
All in all this was a nice, fluffy introduction of the first ladies. It wasn't as juicy as I thought it would be, but it's full of fun little facts. I look forward to reading more comprehensive books on the First Ladies in the future.
Interesting and candid look at each of our First Ladies. Often irreverant and amusing. Brief bio at the beginning of each chapter outlining DOB/death, children, years in the role, popular quote, religious affiliation and astrological sign. Informative and a fun read. You don't get bogged down in heavy details.