Review: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Title: Rodham

Author: Curtis Sittenfeld

Pages: 421 Pages

Publisher: Random house

The Blurb

In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced.

In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton.

But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.

Brilliantly weaving a riveting fictional tale into actual historical events, Curtis Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute and witty story for our times. In exploring the loneliness, moral ambivalence, and iron determination that characterize the quest for political power, as well as both the exhilaration and painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world still run mostly by men, Rodham is a singular and unforgettable novel.

The Review

Rodham imagines a parallel universe in which Hillary Clinton did not marry Bill Clinton. It looks at how her life would have turned out if she hadn’t spent her life one step behind Bill and shadowing his political career. What could have happened if she stayed single, focused on her own career and maybe one day ran for president? Rodham is fantastic.

Obvioously, this is a fictional tale (massively covering my own backside here) but Sittenfeld has taken all the negative qualities of the supporting cast and painted them neon. Bill is a sex pest, Donald Trump supports Hillary but only in so far as he can gain from it, Hillary is a little wooden. It makes the novel really rather salacious.

Rodham is a fascinating look at the world of politics and about social change that has happened and that still needs to happen. It is entertaining because of how we view the world today and the differences that Sittenfeld has used to tell her story. Ironically, it is also the things that have remained the same that also cause us moments to pause and to chuckle. The juxtaposition of both sides of the coin really do make you wonder, along with Sittenfeld, what if?

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld is available now.

For more information regarding Curtis Sittenfeld (@csittenfeld) please visit www.curtissittenfeld.com.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

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