NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of American Wife and Eligible . . . He proposed. She said no. And it changed her life forever.
“A deviously clever what if.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Immersive, escapist.”—Good Morning America
“Ingenious.”—The New York Times
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker • NPR • The Washington Post • Marie Claire • Cosmopolitan (UK) • Town & Country • New York Post
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Hillary Clinton has been a divisive figure for decades. But this fascinatingly juicy, emotionally intimate novel suggests a time line where the pivotal event that determined her role in public life…never happened. We get to know the Hillary in grade school who’s “awfully opinionated for a girl,” college Hillary who excels in law studies but rarely in romance, and the head-over-heels Hillary who finally finds unbridled passion and intellectual harmony with a handsome Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas. We were drawn in by every facet of their sweet, erotic, irrevocably troubled relationship—particularly when, instead of accepting Bill’s chronic infidelity, Hillary decides to leave. How would her life unfold? Could she run for office earlier—by decades? And how would Bill’s political career hold up without his accomplished, charismatic wife pushing back against constant allegations of adultery? Curtis Sittenfeld, whose American Wife provided a similarly empathetic reimagining of former First Lady Laura Bush, offers a sharp alternate history unfolding out of one deeply personal decision.
In this entertaining political fantasy, Sittenfeld (Eligible) imagines Hillary Clinton's personal and professional life if she and Bill had gone their separate ways instead of marrying. The novel begins with an intimate perspective on historical events: At Wellesley's 1969 graduation, Hillary feels the exhilaration of speaking her mind in public. Two years later, she meets Bill at Yale Law School. He is handsome, larger than life, proud of his Arkansas roots. She is ambitious, smart, hardworking, and opinionated. They fall in love and discuss marriage, but break up because of Bill's philandering. Bill runs for president in 1992 but drops out of the race. Hillary, meanwhile, is a year into her first term as senator from Illinois. When she runs for president, in 2016, Bill is one of three primary challengers. Scenes with cameos from Donald Trump prove livelier than familiar elements like Hillary's chocolate chip cookies, which she brings to a Yale potluck. Still, Sittenfeld movingly captures Hillary's awareness of her transformation into a complicated public figure ("The feeling was in the collapse, the simultaneity, of how I seemed to others and who I really was") Readers won't have to be feminists (though it would help) to relish Sittenfeld's often funny, mostly sympathetic, and always sharp what-if.
Worthwhile and fun
Really liked this book. Have read several others by this author and like her writing style. Loved the dynamic between her and Bill. It is a book about what could have been…..
A wonderful read
It made reality a little less burdensome.