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A Novel

Book - 2020
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"In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise. Life magazine 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. Then she meets a fellow law student named Bill Clinton. A charismatic Southerner, Bill is already laying the groundwork for his political career. In each other, Hillary and Bill 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 turned him down more than once, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton. But in Curtis Sittenfeld's powerfully imagined tour de force of fiction, Hillary follows a different path. Listening to her doubts about the prospective marriage, she endures a devastating break-up and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail--one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that crosses paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the trade-offs all of us must make to build a life. Brilliantly weaving actual historical events into a riveting fictional tale, Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute 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 mostly run by men, Rodham is a singular and unforgettable novel."--
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780399590917
Branch Call Number: FIC SITT
Characteristics: 420 pages ; 25 cm


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Dec 01, 2020

This rating reflects how much I think the author meant me to like it; by that I mean, I don't think I was supposed to fall in love with HRC and want to be her best friend forever. But I was rooting for her eventually, and satisfied with the ending to this alternate history. Her voice sounded true (I haven't read her autobiography, but intend to), the storytelling more akin to a legal brief, but it made the experience feel authentic. I could've done without the clinical descriptions of her sex life with Bill--I think we've all heard enough about that man's proclivities in the bedroom--but at the same time they felt necessary to the story. Overall, I enjoyed it.

Nov 28, 2020

I thought the first hundred pages or so were disgusting - and that's based on reality. I'm glad the novel deviates from reality and Hillary Rodham takes a different path than becoming Hillary Rodham Clinton. I don't want to become a spoiler but I liked the ending though how she achieves her goal is somewhat laughable. Worth a read. Not as serious as a Biography and interesting enough since it's based on true life characters.

Oct 27, 2020

I really enjoyed this one, a "what if" fantasy that imagines a different life for Hillary Rodham. I've been recommending it to friends. The story has some elements in common with "The Untold Story" by Monica Ali, another good book.

IndyPL_JoannaC Oct 13, 2020

There are spoilers below.

The only reason I finished this book was so that I could write about how bad it is in good conscience. Let me disclose upfront: I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. She is not a liberal, she's not a feminist. But I wanted to be persuaded, and I was excited to get an alternative perspective on what the political career of this smart, strong woman might have been like if she hadn’t been First Lady first.

Would her relationship with Bill Clinton have pulled her into corruption anyway? Would she still be just as corrupt all on her own? Or not at all? Would her world-view have been different? How would she have handled 9/11? How about the "3 am phone call" attack ads? What about the fact that before there was Obamacare there was Hillarycare? Don't imagine any of that here. Sittenfeld doesn't.

The only historic event addressed is Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearing, which Hillary watches from her office, and serves merely as a backdrop for a budding romance. There is no hacking of her email server, no term as Secretary of State, no real explanation as to why she chose not to run as Senator in NY. Her primary with Bernie Sanders isn’t even mentioned. The biggest omission, however, is a Boomer sentiment. If Hillary is a feminist at all, here, she is a millennial one. And that only goes to show that the author has little to no first-hand experience even with members of Hillary's generation, let alone the history she's writing about.

And in fact, the cover image has more depth of character than Hillary Rodham on the written page. At first, I wasn't sure whether this was the result of the author's lack of skill in character development or genius at portraying the character as she really is. Ultimately, I landed on the former, despite the fact that the voice is so spot-on that I could only imagine Hillary narrating the book as a speech at a podium or an interview on Oprah's couch. That in itself is a flaw, as everything is told and nothing is shown. Every other character in the book serves only to reinforce how wonderful and perfect Hillary is, how she's made all the right and appropriate decisions, how she has few if any personal flaws.

I don't understand the reviews that describe the book as a "powerful tour-de-force....singular and unforgettable" because this book is none of these things. What we get instead is Hillary as she is now, set in an alternate timeline where nothing different of any real consequence happens.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Sep 28, 2020

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Hilary hadn't married Bill? This book is an answer to that question. Occasionally uncomfortable to read for a host of reasons, but really well done.

IndyPL_LeahK Jul 10, 2020

What if Hillary didn’t marry Bill? That’s all I can tell you without spoiling the ride of this tour de force of a novel. What I can say is it left me with all sorts of questions and all kinds of feelings. Perfect for a book club because you’ll want to discuss it after you read it. At times you will feel you are reading a biography other times it reads like fan fiction from a parallel world. The only way to sum up how I felt after I read it was discombobulated.

Jun 12, 2020

Suitable and simple.


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